Contrary to popular belief, I am of the opinion that you should never lie to your children. “What???”, you say…”but I don’t lie to them either.” YEA YOU DO! When you hide that you’re feeling crappy about yourself one day or when you “fake” loving your body…THAT’S LYING!
But this is not about lying. This is about love, openness and mutual respect.
I have always had trouble with self-esteem. Ever since I was 8 and my dad told me that I should not eat more than one bowl of cereal in the morning, I have doubted myself. I didn’t know that having a belly was bad. I thought it was kind of cute. I loved to giggle it in front of the mirror. All of a sudden, my whole world was turned upside down. I started watching other girls, inspecting them, inspecting myself. Constantly. I began to feel as if my body was a cage that I was not in tune with anymore. And it showed. I got worse and worse. Went through all the major eating disorders. And now I’m 30 and I have a daughter. And she is so smart, so beautiful and so real.
At first I thought I needed to fake loving myself, because that’s what they tell you. There are at least 2145937 blog posts and news articles every day exclaiming that saying “God, I hate how my butt looks in those pants!” or “Sometimes I wish I was more attractive” is toxic for your child’s self-esteem. And I agree. Calm down. I agree!
When my daughter catches me saying bad things about my body, I sit her down and I tell her: “Look, baby, momma is being silly. There have been many instances in momma’s life that challenged her on feeling right about herself. And she is spending a lot of time trying to fix that.” I tell her that the world force-feeds women these feelings by making them compare themselves to other women, by making them feel inadequate and as if they have to be under constant self-surveillance. I tell her that a lot of women don’t like their bodies and that they are just scared to admit it because that would make them seem weak. I tell her that there are some women who feel so bad about themselves that they make themselves sick. I tell her that the media encourages this. That they want people to be miserable. And I tell her that the reason why they do this is to make money.”
So, I guess it’s possible that I am raising a rebel. But I welcome that. I welcome any person in my life who is real and honest.
The world tells us that we should be strong. That we should radiate strength. But hardly anyone actually has strength.
I believe that that strength comes from accepting the truth. I believe that that strength comes from telling the truth. Being open and honest about who we are and what we feel. So why should I lie to my daughter? I will not respect the rules of a world which perpetuates self-hatred. I will not force my daughter to buy into the same lies that I bought into. I want her to see the puppet strings before they destroy her.
So…tell your kids how you feel. Be honest with them. Tell them, that there isn’t enough money to pay for god damn Nutella because a few bad little people went and made bad bets on your money. And that this is why daddy goes on the balcony sometimes to be alone. Tell them that the reason why grandpa is crying, is because he sold his soul to his bank account, because the world makes him feel unloved and weak unless he has money. Tell them that the person you see in the mirror is a reflection of everything you feel about yourself, everything this greedy capitalist world has told you about yourself and that sometimes that feeling gets a little too real and it makes you sad. And it makes you do things that you are not proud of.
And I am not saying that you should give them details. Don’t tell them that, to feel better, you snort lines off of hooker’s butts and yell at the neighbors drunk in your underwear. 🙂
But don’t lie to them. They are not stupid. They need to know the truth about this world. And if some priest can tell her about Jesus being crucified and bleeding out for days like a cow in a slaughterhouse, then I am pretty sure, me telling her that the world is not looking out for her is not going to destroy her. It may even make her smarter.
So this my two cents.
Go on as you wish. But please don’t forget what you felt like when you were a kid. I am sure you knew that your parents were full of shit most of the time. And did it make you feel closer to them, or more separated? I say love your children the same way you love everyone else. Show them the respect of being truthful and real.