Women are the heartbeat of the home.
If we are peaceful, joyful and confident, our families will be too. And if we’re anxious, fearful and ashamed, generally our children and husbands will suffer as well.
We cannot let our fears of who we think we are determine how we parent. Fears of passing on insecurities, of saying or doing things that will make our children doubt themselves. Our children will end up being more gracious than we ever thought possible, and not because of us, but in spite of us. Because don’t we, deep-down, believe in redemption?
The truth is, we’ll only believe in redemption once we’ve experienced it ourselves. And we’ll only experience it ourselves if we release our pain, our brokenness, our emptiness—let it fly to heaven like a dove, and let God take that bird and tend to its wounds. If we keep trying to hold onto our injuries, to damage ourselves further, we’ll never be able to fully love on those around us, because our arms will be too full of ourselves.
We need to stop letting fear define us, and to boldly admit we will never be good enough. Only God is good. And then, we need to do our best by our children, anyway. To hug them, listen to them, and watch movies with them. To cry with them when their hearts get broken.
“Remember, your example will last a long time,” writes Lerner. “As family therapist Peggy Papp reminds us, the quality of a mother’s life and her courage are among her most important legacies to her daughter. ‘A woman who can believe in herself when no one else does, who will fight for herself when no one else will, who will continue to struggle even though she is unprotected, this woman demonstrates to her daughter that these possibilities exist.’ One great gift a mother can give her daughter is to live her own life as well as possible.”
- How do you and your mother get along?
- How do you and your daughter get along?
- What similarities do you see between the two relationships?
- How do you talk about/treat your body in front of your daughter?
- How does your view of yourself match up with what you tell your children about their worth?
- Do you apologize to your children inasmuch as you tell them you love them? Why/why not?
- What do you remember about mealtimes, growing up?
- What messages did your mom send you about body image and esteem?
- What messages did your dad send you?
- What were your parents’ attitudes toward physical activity?
- How have their opinions shaped yours, and which of them do you actually agree with?
- Tell your children you’re sorry for how you’ve hurt their perception of themselves, and ask them to forgive you.
- Make a list of ways in which you can encourage/positively reinforce your children’s sense of purpose and value, and choose a different method, each week.
- Seek the therapy/counseling you need in order to be free of the past.
- Create a body image genogram (family tree): This exercise helps you become aware of messages about food, weight, size which have passed down through generations.
- Timeline: Develop a timeline of when your issues with food, weight, and/or body images issues started.
- List: Create a positive and negative list of the attributes, behaviors, or attitudes toward food and body image which have passed down from generation to generation that you want to continue or discontinue in your family.
- What self-care behaviors do you use? What are you going to use this week (for example, walk three times this week, go to yoga class, say nice comments when you look in the mirror, listen to uplifting music when driving home from work)?
- Change: What are some behaviors of yours related to eating, physical activity, and weight control behaviors that you want to change?
- Choose one negative behavior that you’re going to stop this week (i.e. pinching your fat, skipping breakfast, talking about needing to go on a diet).
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