Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Positive

This week on, I'm teaming up with The Representation Project (of which I have always been a fan) and their new #BuildConfidence initiative, to talk about how we, as parents, can celebrate, inform and empower mentors who model positive self-esteem and body image.

(Spoiler alert: Everyone has insecurities. Confidence is something we find within ourselves over time. It is also something we lose, regain, reform, rebuild, and re-establish as we age. And that goes for our children as well.)

- As the Parent/Caretaker, You = #1

This is, perhaps, the scariest truth of all. Because, in the end, regardless of what the media is pushing and the billboards are saying and the Kardashians are doing, WE, the parents, the mothers (and fathers) of our daughters AND sons, are in the front of the line, influence wise. Our children hear us -- see us -- are always listening to us (even when they seem like they are not) and are being modeled how to work hard, think independently and trust themselves. (NO PRESSURE!)

Thus, it is extremely important for all parents to be aware of the things we say, the way we say them, and how we treat ourselves. Self deprecation is something most of us grew up doing. (I did, anyway.) It was not socially acceptable to say nice things about ourselves (I still cannot pinpoint exactly WHY that was the case) so we did a lot of "I'm so fat and ugly and gross" with our friends in front of our mirrors until we all believed it be to true. We put ourselves down because we didn't feel like we were supposed to prop ourselves up. Because self-deprecation is the opposite of vanity... and vanity was for supermodels.

It wasn't until my oldest daughter, Fable, was born that I started to love myself outwardly -- to speak positively about my body and my spirit and my soul. It was okay to love myself and speak kindly about myself in front of my children. If I accomplished something I was proud of, I told them. I shared my joy with them. I also shared with them my failures -- because I believe it is AS important to model self love as it is to embrace the growth achieved through failure.

There is only one way to model determination and that is to share one's failures and flubs.

Besides. Hiding my vulnerability from my kids would only result in them doing the same.

Our insecurities are an important component to better understanding ourselves. That's what makes us human and vulnerable. That's what makes us stronger - understanding our weaknesses, or more importantly, understanding that it's OKAY to have weaknesses...

I have always known that I am here to hold up the mirror until they are old enough to take it from me. I am not here to tell them what to do, but to ask them questions so that they may form their own answers and opinions. I am not the answer key. They are. 
...In the meantime, when I feel beautiful I say so. When I do something I am proud of, I ask for their high-fives. When I fuck up, I ask for their advice. So that they feel like they can do the same. Trust is two-way proposition, after all. I cannot expect them to trust me if I don't show them first how to trust.

Mistakes are an all ages show. So is failure. And determination. And love.

Focus on the Positive. 

For many children, no publicity is bad publicity when it comes to craving attention from their parents, teachers and friends. Over the years I have had to recalibrate the way I communicate, discipline and compliment one of my children, specifically, because what works for three does not work for four. Focusing on the positive is what works for her right now. If she has acted out inappropriately, I have to bring up something she has done that was appropriate in order to cross over. When she does something helpful, loving, kind, fearless (without endangering herself or others) we give her the MOST attention and when she acts out (in order to GET attention) I have learned to walk away. To make molehills out of mountains. To nonchalantly call her bluff. (You cannot fight fire with fire. But water almost always does the trick.)

Focusing on the positive isn't just a disciplinary technique but a strategy in raising kind and optimistic children who seek out the positive in others and themselves. I have always felt it important to compliment everyone from friends to strangers in front of my kids and while it "is so embarassing, Mom. Why do you always have to talk to everyone..." I have watched, over the years, my children start to do the same. Complimenting each other. Strangers. AND themselves...

- Value Health

One of the most important things my mother did for me (and my sister) growing up was forbid the use and purchase of scales at our home. I never knew how much I weighed at 10 or 12 or 16. And, now, at 34, I still have no idea, because, like my mother before me, scales are not allowed in this house sorry not sorry.

Weight is not the point and knowing that one has gained five pounds or lost it should not be determined by a thing but by a feeling. I feel different when I put on weight and that, for me, is enough impetus to adjust my eating/exercise accordingly. Not a number, but a feeling.

Which brings me to my main beat I try to beat: passivity.

The scale is a great example of a passive thing that takes the emphasis off the way a person FEELS intrinsically and puts it on a thing that dictates how to react.

There are many "scales" in life and as a parent, I do my best to distract from them, putting the emphasis on health, happiness and what my kids can do to build their own. Look within... What do THOSE numbers say?
IMG_0538 IMG_0809 You can read my post in its entirety, here...