Originally posted on Psychology Today; cross-posted with permission
Today’s girls are likely the future partners of our sons.
If you’re a regular reader of this [Psychology Today] blog, you know that I write often about mothers, daughters and body image. I get many questions from moms of girls – the most common being, “How can I help my daughter feel good about herself?”
I’ve got a daughter of my own, and I face many of the same issues that my readers face. I’ve also got friends who have only sons, and many of them confide that they’re glad they don’t have to deal with the “drama” – particularly around body image – that often surrounds girls.
Ah, but they do. I daresay that mothers of sons need to be just as concerned about the body image and self-esteem of the girls in their son’s circle as the moms of those girls do.
Well, think about it. Healthy self-esteem and self-respect are the foundation for healthy relationships. Today’s girls are likely the future partners of our sons
When girls don’t feel good about who they are or the bodies they live in, they’ll sometimes act out in unhealthy ways: Drinking or using drugs to mask their pain, smoking cigarettes in an attempt to stay thin or even engaging in promiscuous behavior to prove to themselves – and the world, in their eyes – that they’re worthy of love and attention.
And they’re often not alone in this acting-out behavior: Our sons are with them.
Beyond acting-out behavior, too, is the confusion that boys sometimes feel about the way girls act. Sometimes, I’ll look over and see a look of bewilderment in my son’s eyes in response to something my daughter has said or done. I don’t like to generalize, but sometimes, boys just don’t understand the loathing that many girls feel toward their bodies. You can hear it in a song by singer Bruno Mars – one in which he sings: “I know, I know, when I compliment her she won’t believe me. And it’s sad, so sad, to think that she don’t see what I see.”
We all have a stake in raising a generation of daughters – and sons – who feel good about who they are.
Dara Chadwick the author of You’d Be So Pretty If…:Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don’t Love Our Own.