words about ourselves affect kids

How Our Words About Ourselves Affect Our Children

(By Megan Osborne, PhD for Finding Balance)

We have partnered with a top-notch organization called Finding Balance. Finding Balance is the leading Christian resource for DAILY help with eating and body image issues. If someone contacts TheHopeLine® with an eating disorder, we refer them to the resources at Finding Balance. If you know anyone who struggles with an eating disorder, I encourage you to visit their website. The blog I share today is written by Megan Osborne who has her PhD in Clinical Christian Counseling and serves on the board of Finding Balance. While it’s written from the perspective of mother to daughter, the message to consider how our words about ourselves affect our children is universal. -Dawson

A few weeks ago I was shopping with a girlfriend at a local clothing consignment boutique. I had browsed through rather quickly, and, not finding anything in particular that I needed, I retreated to the trendy couch in the middle of the store to check my email while my friend continued to shop. Enjoying the quiet of the moment, I was quickly distracted to a conversation taking place behind me. I turned around momentarily to see a young girl, around the age of 7, shopping with her mother.

The young girl chirped happily to her mother, “Oh Mommy this tee-shirt would look so cute with those shorts!”

She continued on gleefully, “and what about this tank-top with the sparkling beads!?”

The mother’s immediate retort was, “My ugly broad shoulders and flabby arms would never be seen in that tank-top!”

Then, “I can never find anything to hide my fat.”

I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling the hot tears sear up from within me. My heart ached for this precious and very impressionable little girl. I had to control myself to keep from executing a swift jump to a standing position to plead with this mother that the very words she chooses are damaging the way her daughter will view herself.

What we say verbally about ourselves, as moms, has a profound effect on our children … especially our daughters.

Children look to us, as their parents, to set the tone for how they will discover more about themselves in their relation to the world and to God. How we feel about ourselves and the underpinnings of our own body image and self-esteem have a direct impact on our children’s body image and self-esteem.

When it comes to protecting our children from being negatively influenced by our own insecurities, it is important to be aware of our own self-image, and how it is communicated in the words we say. When considering this, it’s helpful to be aware of two different types of insecurities we may wrestle with:

#1: Known Insecurities – These are areas you know you are insecure about, such as how a particular part of your body looks or how you feel about your weight. Pray about these insecurities intentionally, and invite God in to heal areas that need healing. Seek professional counsel if needed. We all can use more of that.

#2: Hidden Insecurities – These may surface in the words you find yourself saying. Be mindful of how the words you say may reveal things you struggle with unknowingly. Invite God to reveal these hidden insecurities that need to be restored by Him.

Finally, tuck away in your heart the words found in Ephesians 4:29:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Remember that, as moms, we too were created wonderfully, uniquely, and purposely by God. What better way to share the truth of beauty in creation with our children than to show them that we find the beauty in ourselves?

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