Raising children is hard. It’s especially hard if you want to raise well-rounded, godly, disciplined children with high self-esteem. I knew it would be a challenge to raise a girl. While pregnant with my daughter, I watched the documentary “Dark Girls” about how colorism affects children and women in the Black community. The documentary made me even more determined to build my daughter’s self-esteem and pride in the person God created her to be. So, from day one, I told her that she is beautiful. I told my daughter her dark skin, bright eyes and thick, curly hair were something to be admired. I bought books with princesses and women of every hue, so she’d know black girls could be princesses too.
Now, I haven’t only focused on her physical beauty. Everyday we pray for spiritual discernment and the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. I tell her she must cultivate the qualities and characteristics on the inside, which are what truly make people beautiful like a loving heart and a compassionate spirit. I tell her true beauty comes from the heart and how one treats people. She says she hears me, but then last night she did something that disturbs me. As we snuggled up in bed together, she started tapping her stomach.
Tap, tap, tap.
The tapping became light smacks on her belly. I looked over and asked what she was doing. She said, “I’m trying to make my stomach go in.” What?
My daughter is four years old. She is straight up and down. She weighs about 40 lbs. I couldn’t believe she said she was trying to “make her stomach go in.”
“Who taught you that? Who said something about your stomach?” I asked her.
“No one. I just want my stomach to go in.”
Ugh. How could my daughter already be worried about having a belly? I wracked my mind all night, until I remembered how I talk about my body in her presence.
“My stomach is so fat. I’m huge. I need to lose weight.”
Almost every time I go into a dressing room, I say these things. Most of the time my daughter is present. She’s always jumping around and playing with her brother, but last night showed me she’s paying attention. I have to watch what I say about myself around her. I have to remember impressionable ears are listening. My daughter tells me almost every day I’m beautiful. I can see the admiration in her eyes. She wants to be like me like how I wanted to be like my mom. I need to practice what I preach to her everyday and believe it. I am who God says I am.
I’ve always said God gave me my daughter to teach me about loving myself. Watching her from infancy to now, I see how precious, unique and valuable she is. I know there isn’t anything that can make me stop loving her. I take pride in the little girl she is becoming. I love her bubbly, carefree personality. She is the apple of my eye. The Lord constantly tells me this is the same way He feels about me. It’s been a lifelong journey believing the things God says about me, but raising my daughter gives me more insight and faith to believe.