Friday, January 29, 2016

Hiding my Insecurities From my Daughter


While chatting with a close friend the other day, we started talking about the periods in our lives when we felt the most confident in ourselves. As I listened to her tell me about how she felt, I thought about this question and really started to think about my answer. For as long as I can remember I have had some sort of body image issue with myself. Depending on the time in my life and the stage of my development, I have been self conscious and insecure. I wish this wasn't the case and I hate to admit it but unfortunately, even as an adult, I struggle daily with the beast that is insecurity.

When I had my daughter, I knew I had to do everything in my power to raise a self confident, self assured woman who didn't feel the way I have always felt. I've read everything there is to read about what not to do or say to a young girl so that she develops self love and security within herself. The thing is, I have the most wonderful mother who has always made me feel important, worthy and who worked tirelessly to instill confidence in me throughout my life, and I still turned out the way I did. I have been told that my insecurities stem from abandonment issues or came from a time in my teenage years when I was trying to find my place in the world. But I can tell you here and now that I have memories (that are clear as day) from elementary school, before my dad left and I lived a seemingly normal childhood, where I judged my appearance, questioned my place in life and just felt crappy about myself. Where did those insecurities come from and how do I protect my daughter from developing them?

The Ugly Truth
Here's the thing, as I struggle in my personal battle with insecurities, my daughter is old enough now to see how I treat myself as a woman. I'd be lying if I said she hasn't walked in on me staring at myself in the mirror as I stand in my underwear, picking my thighs apart and lift my breasts up. That she hasn't heard me say how I wished I was thinner, had thicker hair or clearer skin. That she hasn't asked me why I work out so much even when I'm sick or sore from the day before. But the truth is she has heard me put myself down, analyze myself and pick out my flaws. It's not just vanity driven either... I have talked about my role in our family, my career goals and failed dreams in front of her (not on purpose mind you). The ugly truth is that even if I say everything I need to say to my daughter and praise her and build up her self esteem, setting an example with how I view myself in front of her speaks volumes.

I'm aware that I can't hide everything from my growing daughter but an honest effort on my part needs to be made. She will be 10 this year and is increasingly more curious in her knowledge of a young girl's role in life. I'm trying to raise the most confident woman I can, and even though she is absolutely different than I ever was, instilling the basic fundamentals in self esteem and security within her is so extremely important to me. The struggle is real though, because as a parent, in order to set an example of self love, I first need to address the bigger problem that is my insecurity itself. And honestly, I still go to bed at night praying that one day I will wake up and just feel better.



18 comments:

  1. Ashleigh- what a beautiful post. I think you are doing a wonderful job and you are doing the best you can do. I also think that society is to blame for many of these issues. I find myself very much like you; I was raised in a loving environment but still somehow ended up insecure about my looks. I think media is to blame for so much of this. You're doing everything you can do. <3 She will have struggles at some point in her life, but that's when you step in and tell her that she is beautiful the way she is. If she hears this enough, she will believe it. I'm sure she already does. <3

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    1. It's nice to know that other women who were raised in loving, confident environments still struggle with insecurities... which kind of makes me feel like even if I love all over my daughter and teach her self confidence, that she might still struggle in the same ways as me. Who knows, right?! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience, I really appreciate your input! And you, Chelsea, are a wonderful, beautiful woman!

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  2. Being a woman is hard. Being a woman that is a mother to a daughter is even harder. My daughter is almost three but I have three boys where my oldest is almost 10. While I'm not happy with my body, I look at it and admire it too that it created 4 beautiful children and birthed them. As women we are bombarded with images and ideals that just aren't realistic but play such a big role in our psychology and how we view ourselves. I'm hoping to break the barrier and teach my kids that no matter a woman's size or shape, she is beautiful and I'm hoping to teach my daughter that her muscular legs, just like her moms, are something to be immensely proud of.

    I don't have any tips but it sounds like you are aware and want the best outcome for your daughter. The only thing I can suggest is to communicate about body issues. It is amazing how much kids know but can learn from when we communicate with them and are honest.

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    1. Thank you Amanda for sharing your thoughts with me! I agree that finding the positives in our bodies is so important, and then expressing those positives with our children. This is great advice and one I will try and implement with my daughter. Communication is key at this stage in both our relationship and her development. Thank you for the tip, and bravo to you for your strength even though you, too, struggle with insecurities.

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  3. Such an honest and vulnerable piece of writing. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now Ashleigh, and I just have to say I think you are freaking awesome!
    Seriously you have such a honest and positive outlook. Your blog is amazing. Your family is beautiful and it’s obvious you work very hard.
    I have a lot of insecurities that I struggle with on a daily bases and truth be told I think that there is little you can do to stop them all together.
    My dad left me when I was 6 and it crushed me and I know that still bothers me sometimes, even though my step dad loves me like I am his own flesh and blood. Not to mention I have a mom and big sister that are super strong independent women. I think a large part of the reason we have these insecurities is the society we live in. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others and some of the things we see are pretty hard to obtain.
    I think all you can do is keep being an honest, awesome and real role model and just be there for her when those teenage insecurities start.
    Lots of love your way!

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    1. Oh Dia, I really appreciate the thoughtful response and compliment. You are a true beauty and wonderful person as well. I agree that there is little we can do at this stage in our lives to change this way of thinking. And yes, society has a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves. I know that where I live in California, it is total common place to hear ads on the radio for plastic surgery {buy one boob, get one free, gah!)... which drives me soooo bonkers! I hope I can be the best support system for her when those feelings start, I'm just hoping they are not so bad ha. Thank you for your input!!

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  4. My wife worries about this - she comes from a long line of insecure women who've passed that insecurity onto their daughters. She's desperate to break that cycle. Good luck to you, it looks like you're already doing a great job with her.

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  5. I loved this post so much Ashleigh, thank you for your open, heartfelt honesty. I think most of us have felt this way at one time or another, but I also feel liked it's worse these days with the prevalence of social media. I feel like we have messages being shouted at us all day long that we're not good enough and it's so important to fight back as those voices with positive images of our individual worth. Sometimes I feel myself getting filled with negativity about my body and my accomplishments, but then I try to focus on everything that I AM and HAVE instead of everything that I'm NOT.

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  6. Ashleigh, thanks for your opens in sharing such a challenging area in your life. I can say I experienced that as well. One resource that was very helpful to me to deal with me was a book entitled The Sensation of Being Somebody by Maurice Wagner. When I was encouraged to read the book I couldn't even accept the title as something that was possible or maybe appropriate for me. The book is old and you likely would need to look for it used. I think it was published in the late 70's. The author was both a psychologist and a theologian. It was very helpful to me.....lots of pink highlighting throughout. You actually look amazing, but I just wanted to share something that helped me more than 35 years ago. I became a clinical counselor and used it many times with gals like me who had problems with self-image/self-concept. Visiting today as your neighbor on #FriendshipFriday.

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  7. Thank you for saying what many of us won't. My second daughter is especially tuned in to my actions. I am dermatillomanic, and I catch her displaying the same tendencies, which come from my insecurities. It's a struggle to overcome.

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  8. Such a great post. when i was growing up, I thought my Mom was superwoman. She did everything and I thought she could do everything. Later, I guess when I got older and I started to see her hesitation to do things, it baffled me because I never thought she had any fears or insecurities. By then, though, I had developed a kind of attitude that I could do everything so it was okay.
    You're doing something great for your daughter to teach her that she is everything she needs, that she can do everything, but also teach her that she doesn't have to. We're not meant to live this life alone but we should be able to do it if necessary.
    http://runwright.net

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  9. Such a wonderfully honest post. I think we all struggle with insecurities at some point, especially in this day and age where society can be so image-centric. You're obviously a great and caring mom and your daughter is lucky to have you as a role model as she heads into her teenage years, and beyond!

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  10. What a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I've had some of these same thoughts too and it was so nice to read your ideas. My daughter is barely 10 months old, but I want to raise her to be confident and comfortable in her skin. I love the ideas you share. Thank you!

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  11. Beautiful post Ashleigh. I have many of the same feelings. I don't believe our insecurities come from how we were raised though. I think it's society these days. Women are supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way and raise their children a certain way! It's crazy and we need to break the cycle. You and your daughter are both beautiful :)

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  12. Aw, I would rather my mother look at herself with her flaws and love them anyway, rather than thinking she is perfect. My sister always preferred a "chubbier" mommy than a skinny one. (they are cuddlier)

    Found you on Mommy A to Z :)

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  13. I can only imagine how hard the struggle must be to keep down the "negative talk" around an impressionable young woman. I used to think our generation of women were super empowered, but every day I hear or see myself doing things that says just the opposite. HOWEVER, you ARE trying, you ARE aware, and that's VERY important! Sometimes pointing out what shouldn't happen is just as powerful as pointing out what should :D

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  14. That's such a lovely touching post Ashleigh. At times I too have the same feelings...insecurity...sometimes I really feel so worthless and fear that my kids will someday laugh at me(hope that day will never come). I feel like a total failure at times...but hoping to get over all these feelings some day and have some confidence :)Right now all I want to do is send a hug your way!!You and your daughter are BEAUTIFUL!!

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  15. This is a beautiful, honest post. I think that as women, it's hard for us to feel confident and insecurity can too often rear its ugly head. I know I am often insecure. But I think our daughters don't necessarily need to see as pillars of self-confidence. I like to think that just seeing that we're trying to defeat our insecurities, that we believe we're worth the work on ourselves, is something important. Or so I tell myself! Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post at the Manic Mondays blog hop!

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