Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Teaching children

Many of my friends are pregnant or have newborns. Children scare me, because I don’t understand them as I have had little to do with them in my life. For me, each meeting is a moment of learning – how small they really are, what makes them cry, seeing them grow, begin to smile, feeling peaceful when they fall asleep in my arms. I look down on their tiny little bodies, perfect hands, scrunched up faces, curled up legs. All they seem to want is to be held, close to the heart, warm and secure. They feel pain and they don’t understand it. Their body isn’t quite under their control – those arm things flinging around grabbing some hair, a poke in the eye, but mostly just air. Then they become conscious of this strange body, they can roll, then crawl, walk, and soon run. Every time I see these tiny little people I wonder if one day they will look down and think ugh. Look at those hips or those thighs or that belly. Will these little bodies, that seemed so perfect to their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts and all those who cared about them become an object of self loathing? Will these kids cry in the arms of those who love them, bewildered at how anyone could find their bodies anything but repulsive?

Part of the reason I decided that I desperately needed to improve my own body image and habits were for my children. Since all my friends began conceiving my husband and I have talked a lot about our own future babies, he dreams of them and I don’t. Looking at my friend’s children I became fearful of the thoughts about body image that I may pass onto my own kids in the future. I worried about teaching them how to have an unhealthy relationship with food, exercise and how to go through life always unhappy with your weight. I shudder to think bringing a baby into this world and teaching them to create the same suffering for themselves as I have made for me.

I realised that although the baby plan may be at least a few years in the future, improving my body image and creating healthy habits was something I needed to start doing now. So here I am, working on becoming a healthier happier person, so that one day I can lead by healthy example. I just wonder, is it enough? Since I didn’t get my self-esteem issues from my mother, so what else needs to be done to raise children with a positive self-image?

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