The Way We Talk to Kids

Today I need to talk about something that has nothing to do with me right now… but someday it will.

I feel so, so passionately about the way we speak to children. I think that our words make an incredible impact on the way they see themselves. If I’m ever blessed with a daughter I know that feminine compliments include words like beautiful, adorable, and cute.  I’m ok with these (and if she looks anything like my hubby then she will definitely be a cutie), but I need a few more words in her vocabulary. I want her to see herself as smart and adventurous and brave and determined. I want my kids to see”unique” as a positive trait. If I ever have a son I want him to know that “emotional” and “kind” are WONDERFUL things to be.

I got an email last week from a baby clothing store and this was part of the ad:

Baby Clothes

Typically I just scroll past these clothes (since my favorite Baby Elliot is only in 9mn outfits), but I found myself stuck on this ad.

Why, why, why do the boys’ shirts say brave, explorer, extraordinary and the girls say NOTHING? Girls get to pick between flowers or lace. Whhhhhhhhy?!

I am a feminist, but this is not a feminist post. This is my future mom-self thinking how much I LOVE that yellow/tan shirt and how I’d buy it for a daughter, but I would never put her in that floral jumpsuit thing-y. It’s a cute romper, but I want my daughter to have a choice between t-shirt or blouse, skirt or cargo shorts… This ad doesn’t give her a choice.

(I know that this ad is directed at parents, not kids, but come on… Not ONE adventurous shirt for the ladies.)

Let it be known right now: If I am ever pregnant with a daughter feel free to buy her whatever outfits you’d like, but please don’t shy away from blues, greens, and boy-associated ensembles. (I mean, if it says “Daddy & Son” probably leave it on the rack, but I’m good with trucks and bugs.)

Ok… on to the next point.

I’ve mentioned it before (like during the holidays), but I have a part time job at a kids’ clothing store. (No, it’s not the same one that sent me the email.) I took a few months off-ish, but I really like working there so I’m back to floor sales now.

While I was working last week a mom and daughter- maybe 10 or 12 years old- came in to browse. The mother was very put together and stylish, but the daughter was a typical kid: messy rained-on hair, athletic shorts, and a colorful tank top. I noticed that the daughter’s hair was just past her shoulders and curled into little spirals at the bottom. Yes, it was a little frizzy from the Ohio humidity, but that’s the nature of curly hair.

I asked the little girl if her hair was naturally curly. She said yes and her mother rolled her eyes. I said I thought it was very pretty- she’s very lucky to have curly hair like that. Her mother, with a look of disgust, replied, “No, she’s not. It’s a pain.” The little girl thanked me and quietly followed her mom to another corner of the store. All I could do was stand there and glare at the back of the mother’s head.

Why, why, why would you tell your impressionable child that her hair is “not good”?? She will go her entire life looking at magazines and television commercials of skinny, beautiful models with smooth, straight, flowy hair. As one curly-headed girl to another, let her have my compliment! (It took me +15 years to figure out how to manage my frizzy hair… now I love it.)

I know that 90% of the time it’s unintentional, but kids soak it up at least 90 % of the time.

Am I just being touchy or does that ad rub you the wrong way, too? Are you intentional in what you say to kids?

-Louise

A Letter to My Children

This week I’ve been inspired by Rebecca’s post as well as The Letter Link-Up with mr. thomas & me.

I’ll start by admitting that I have some irrational or silly fears. These include horses, my dogs being sprayed by skunks, dinosaurs (yes, I know they’re extinct but what if they WEREN’T?), and someone living in our attic. The last one I have checked multiple times with a knife in hand; our house is old and it creaks.

One of my not-so-irrational fears is how my children will see themselves someday. When I was younger I had self-doubt. I doubted my intelligence, my personality, my weight, my looks, etc. I was very mean to myself (which sometimes led to me being mean to others) and very uncomfortable in my own skin. Terms related to anxiety and depression were tossed around and at one point I thought about running away.

I hate that I once felt that way. I know it pains my parents to now known all the issues I was going through. I love my life now and it makes me sad that at one point I hated it.

That being said, I have this fear that my children might feel this way one day. I will literally do everything in my power to help them avoid those feelings.

Dear Future Kiddo,

You aren’t a thought yet, so I don’t know if you will be a girl or a boy, but it doesn’t matter- we will love you regardless. I hope that you are healthy. Honestly, that’s the only thing I will hope and pray and plead for… You can be bald, tiny, big, whatever. I just hope you’re healthy. And if you’re not, we will figure it out and manage all the same.

Let’s move on.

You are coming into a very turbulent world. This world has a lot of good in it, but it also has bad. The world is filled with money problems, violence, hate, and more. There are babies having babies and children without food or homes or role models. I won’t shield you from these facts- we will talk about them and try to understand them and thank God that we are fortunate enough to be comfortable. I hope that you will learn to extend a helping hand to those that have less than you.

You will have friends and even family members that let you down. It’s your job to forgive, because you will also let people down. No matter what you do, though, your dad and I will always have your back. You will make mistakes and you will have to pay for those mistakes, and you will be in the wrong and we will have to discipline you, but we will always love you and stand by you.

Your dad is going to instill in you the importance of hard work, honesty, and practice. Boy or girl, your dad is going to stick you behind the drumset and coach you. If you hate it then we’ll find something else to work at. You don’t have to be the best, but you should strive to be better than you were yesterday. Not everyone gets a trophy and sometimes you will lose. That’s life. Losing makes winning that much sweeter. That said, winning isn’t everything. Sometimes you won’t be appreciate or recognized for something awesome that you’ve done. Your worth isn’t defined by others- you are always good enough.

Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t compare others to you. Everyone is different and we all have strengths and weaknesses. Spend your time lifting others up, not putting them down. You are a human. A creature. A creation of God. This puts you on the same playing field as a king and a homeless man. You share the same air as a dog and a lion. Everyone deserves mercy and compassion. Respect your neighbors and your pets and the environment- you can’t live without these things.

This next part is very important.

You can tell us anything. Anything. You don’t have to tell us everything, but you can tell us anything. If you are feeling sad for no reason please tell us. If you are attracted to the same sex please tell us. If you are struggling in math please tell us. If you are drunk at a party and all your friends are drunk please call your father. (DO NOT get in a car with other drunk people.) If you are in jail, please call us. If you are addicted to heroin, please tell us. Your problems, fears, struggles, joys, triumphs are ours, too.

I will apologize now because your dad and I will mess up. Probably a lot. But we will love you and we want you to love you, too.

– Future Mom

Maybe someday when we’re ready for kids I will revisit this letter (and probably cry).  Right now it was just something on my mind.

What do you tell your children as far as self-esteem goes? What do you want your future children to know?

-Louise

The Letter Link-up | Mr. Thomas & Me