Monday, March 29, 2010

Guest Post: Brandon

Brandon is the founder of Notes on Parenting, a blog dedicated to giving parents important information about child development. It is also meant to bring up family life issues that we may not normally think about. Brandon is currently a student at Brigham Young University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Family Life. He has been accepted for graduate studies in Human Development & Family Studies at the top schools around the nation. He and his wife have a beautiful (and teething) 9 month old daughter, who has done things all on her own time (i.e. she definitely doesn't fit what most of the development textbooks tell you!). Brandon's key interests include the transition to parenthood, the importance of fathers, and effective parenting.

How many times have you heard someone mention the impact of media on children? The most powerful video I've ever seen on the impact of media was created by Dove: Watch it here.

Seriously, after watching this video, all I can do is think, “I am raising my daughter with all of this around? How the heck do I protect her from all of this filth about what it takes to be a ‘real and beautiful’ woman?!”

But we can’t blame only outside influences--how many times do you yourself worry about how you look, or make comments about how you look in front of your children? Usually, what parents value, children begin to value as well; so if you are constantly worrying about those two extra pounds or your normal human body, children will begin to value a standard that may be unrealistic for their own bodies. Our bodies are sacred. Be careful what you do and say about your body around your children.

Additionally, everyday comments that we as parents make can influence our children's way of thinking about their bodies. For instance, which of the following approaches is better?

"Rachel! Stop watching TV all day. You'll get fat!"


"Rachel! Let's go for a bike ride together. It's a beautiful day!"

Both of these statements have the same intention--to get the child to stop watching TV and do something active--because the parent is worried about the child's exercise habits and health. However, the second example is much more effective on many levels. Instead of making the child worry about her looks and weight, the parent offers a better option for her daughter's time and body, while also spending time with the child. This is teaching by example. Be careful not to miss these small teaching moments! You can teach your children what real beauty is by letting them see your own priorities.

What do you have to say about this issue? How do you teach--or plan to teach--real beauty to your children?


annie said...

i've been thinking about this a lot lately. my daughter is almost two, and for most of her life we've all swooned about how beautiful she is. people are always saying to little girls that they're so cute or whatever. which is good and wonderful, but it's started to feel a little weird. so i try to say things more like, you picked a great outfit to wear! or you worked so hard on that picture! to put the focus on her mind and hard work rather than looks.

abnormallyawesome said...

I have decided that for me, beauty is evidence of God. The reason we find things beautiful is we're seeing Him in that thing he has created. I hope to teach that to my children when I grow up. That anything which in any way bears witness of God, is beautiful.
That being said;
"all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it" Alma 30; 44

Lin said...

I think it's important to remember that these are lessons every child needs to learn, not just girls. Boys need to learn what real beauty is so they can see it in the girls and women around them when they are older. They need to learn to be comfortable with how they look as well. They also pick up on the things we say about ourselves and will react accordingly.

My favorite thing, though, is when kids turn this lesson around on you and remind you to not worry so much about how you look. They should be a constant reminder to us, as women, that we are beautiful simply because we have the ability to create such amazing little people.

That's totally sappy, but you get the point.

Miri said...

That's an excellent point Lin! I hadn't even thought about it. Boys also need to have an understanding of what real beauty is, and not have unrealistic expectations that can happen based on what the media shows. The best way for that to happen is for them to see real women in their lives, women who are comfortable with themselves and know that being human and happy is more important than being perfect and pretty. And boys get weird about the way they look as well, and they need to be taught to be comfortable with their bodies. It's important to always keep the focus on what really matters, for our kids and for ourselves.