I remember the day my seven year old came home from school, upset and unwilling to tell me why he had been crying. He eventually hugged me tight and told me that one of his classmates had said something to him – about me.
His classmate said, “Your mom is so fat.”
It broke his heart – he was devastated to know that people thought his Mommy was fat. Until that moment, he didn’t realize it. He didn’t realize it because we don’t speak like that in our house. It broke his heart, but it broke mine even more. Until that moment, my son had never looked at me in any way but as his Mommy. I told him I was okay, and that it didn’t bother me, and that it shouldn’t bother him either, but I saw such sadness in his eyes, it was heartbreaking.
I will admit that I’m not the most positive person when it comes to my own self-image. I am very hard on myself, all the time – a product of my upbringing, I suppose. But when I had my children, I told myself that I wanted to be for them what I didn’t necessarily have as a young child. And I’ve worked hard to keep my promise, to myself and to them, because I know that kids see and hear everything that their parents say and do, and it’s hard to deny the consequence, especially when what they see and hear, is negative.
I want my kids to like who they are, no matter what. I know that being hard on them is not an option, if I want them to be happy and feel good about themselves. So instead, I encourage them in everything they do. I tell them they are smart, and beautiful, and sweet, every single day. I tell them I love them constantly. I reward them with smiles, and hugs and kisses. I encourage them to try their best, to try new things and to never give up on themselves.
I want them to feel proud of themselves, and I want them to know that they are loved no matter if they succeed or fail. It really is something that has to be a priority every day, as a parent, and I try to make it as such. Truth be told, the fat comment may have broken my heart – the realization that even young children see what I see in myself, but I would never tell my son that. Instead I used it as a lesson, as a way not to treat our family, friends, and others. Kids are never too young to learn to feel good about themselves, to feel loved and safe, and it’s absolutely my job to make that happen.