This is my daughter.
She’s smart, she’s kind, she’s funny, she’s spirited, she’s strong. She’s loved.
She’s also confident. As she got ready for her school program in December, she looked in the mirror and said “I think I’m going to be the prettiest polar bear on stage.” My husband cringed at the lack of humility; I silently thanked God for her self-assurance. And I prayed that confidence would remain in her always.
Last week, a little girl – younger than Kate, I’d guess around six – stopped Kate in the hallway and said, “Kate, have you gotten fatter?”
I don’t know what Kate’s response was at the time, but I do know that when I got home that evening, she met me at the door and told me what had happened. She was brokenhearted.
“I don’t think I’m fat,” she said. “But the other girls on my basketball team have skinnier legs than I do.”
Then she demonstrated to me how the circumference of her legs increased when she sat down on a chair.
She cried. I wanted to cry and/or bang some six-year-old heads together.
I assured her she wasn’t fat (and even if she was, so effing what?), that she was perfect and that her body was strong and functional and did all the things she wanted it to do. She can run and jump and swim and dance.
Eventually she calmed down, and while she hasn’t brought it up again, I worry that a seed of doubt was planted in her mind, that a piece of the confidence I admire so much was chipped away.
We, as parents, have the responsibility not only to know how to respond to our children when harsh words are thrown their way, but also to make sure that they’re not the ones making comments on the appearance or abilities of others.
How do we do that?
But I’m going to try to figure it out, so that I’m better prepared when (because really, it’s not an if) it happens again.
If you’re interested in this topic and free today at noon, join me in a chat at TheMotherhood.com, to learn about empowering girls. I’ll be back to tell you what I learned – and then maybe we’ll all have a better way to deal than to bang six-year-old heads together.