If you are a mom and remotely active on any kind of social media, you are likely already getting bombarded with a thousand different ‘fear bombs’ via your news feed on a regular basis. In just one week, I have been warned via Facebook, direct email, and even LinkedIn about all the scary bad things I should be worrying about. Here are a few:
- My child may die of SIDS if they don’t sleep in my room for one year
- Signs of Autism
- Sexual predators on the game Minecraft
- How screentime ruins kids’ brains permanently
- Election day fears leading to schools being canceled
- How kids are damaged with discipline
- If it’s okay to feed your 4 ½ month old solids
- Why parents need to drink
- What ‘every’ parent should know
Now, maybe some of this is good advice, and maybe there’s just a lot of a-holes out there with keyboards and opinions – how should I know? My kids are still small so I have absolutely no data supporting that I know what the heck I’m doing. However, if there’s one thing I DO know, it’s that people never make good decisions based on fear and that it seems like our predecessors functioned much better without a constant barrage of input from ‘experts’ bent on telling them what they’re doing wrong (okay, maybe that’s two things I know).
And on the other hand, I’m raising a girl-child in a world that does not always seem safe for anyone, let alone women. I’ve been fortunate that I have only experienced a little bit of discrimination and disparate treatment throughout my career, but I’m still sensitive to all the ways Bisky is going to be potentially preyed on, subjected to a double standard, and constantly bombarded by the media with unrealistic role expectations. I’m not even sure the solution. I think it’s to raise her to be independent, resilient, confident, and able to lead, but these qualities are admittedly much more desirable in a full-grown woman than in a four-year-old.
I thought I was doing pretty well and yet still, she told me the other day that she didn’t want to be fat and I realized that even in a home where positive body image is like a THING, there are cultural factors that are really strong that we’re fighting. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I am trying really hard to help her understand that:
- You need to answer to Mommy and Daddy and God (and Pat. Okay, and Grandma) and the order will switch as you grows up and it’s not that important what ‘everyone else’ thinks.
- Your body is the perfect container for YOU.
- Healthy food and exercise are important to make sure your body is strong and able to do fun things.
- Not everyone has your best interests at heart, and there are ‘Tricky People’ out there who don’t always look like the villains in a Disney cartoon.
- If you don’t do something that’s too hard for you, and fail, you will never get any better.
- It’s foolish to not ask for help if you don’t know how to do something.
- Mommy will never do something for you that you can do for yourself, but I will always help you if you really need it (unless you whine a lot and I do it for you because you win and I can’t take it anymore).
- You have to laugh and laugh often. Laugh at troubles, laugh at yourself and don’t take anything all that seriously, because this too shall pass.
- There is nothing so bad in a 2 or 4-year-old’s (or 44 year-old’s)life that a rousing session of dress up can’t cure.
- Do your best. Sometimes it won’t be good enough for someone else, but if you always do your best then you’re a winner.
- If you wake up the sleeping babies, I will cut you (oh wait, that one is for Dreamy).
It’s such a huge responsibility to make sure these little people will grow up not just to be ‘happy’, or ‘wealthy’, but to have good character, resiliency and the ability to impact the world for the better in whatever path they choose. And sometimes they carry on like a bunch of delinquents and I just hope we can save enough money for bail and a decent lawyer in the next few years. As I’m frequently reminded, though, they are their own people. I’m not designing their lives for them, I’m helping them discover who they’re meant to be and hopefully giving them some half-decent decision-making abilities. At the very least, I’m incorporating a love of dress-up, which has got to be good for something!