Sociology 101 taught me about the term “looking-glass self.” What others think of me, how people speak to me, how those around me react to me, basically determines what I think of myself.” There are those strong individuals that can and have broken out of that mirrored reflection…but unfortunately, that climb can be a difficult and grueling experience.
I don’t always agree with the strong women blog, but one article that caught my attention, “I am my Beliefs” by Isadora Dahlen, says just what I have been advocating for years. As Ms Dahlen points out, “When a little girl develops into a woman, she believes everything she was taught about herself as a child. Positive messages go a long way, but negative ones go further and deeper.”
Is it any different for a little boy? I would say “absolutely not.”
Ms Dahlen volunteers her time and creative writing expertise at the Perryville Prison in Phoenix, AZ where young women are incarcerated for years of their most productive lives. I have been to Perryville when my husband was asked to be a guest speaker. These beautiful women all clad in orange, were just like any other women I have seen at the mall, or at school, or even church. They are women who made mistakes, but each one of them still longs for a good, fulfilling, and meaningful life.
These women had every possibility for such a life until as Ms Dahlen points out in her article, too often they heard words from their mothers or fathers that little by little tore away the dreams of their childhood. “Nobody wants you.” “You’re useless.” “Nobody is gonna want to marry you.” “Being a drug addict is ok.” “Your mother hates you.”
I can’t imagine a child being exposed to such damaging language, let alone hearing it from a parent! If a child is told, “You’re greedy, selfish, ugly, stupid, heartless, a liar, too loud, an idiot, a whore, a loser” sooner or later the child believes what he/she is told.
Other women are imprisoned, but not behind bars because of such verbal and emotional abuse. The article of the same name was also written by Ms Dahlen, and it too is worth reading.
We as parents play such a critical roll in shaping and molding our children’s attitudes of self worth. They not only deserve loving words of encouragement, as one friend of mine said, “I needed them like I needed air to breathe.” How many hours a day are spent providing food, clothing, and shelter? Let’s not forget the hidden needs that have more of an impact in shaping who our children become, and what heights they can achieve.