“I’ve been uncensored in voicing my own insecurities because it never occurred to me that little boys ears were listening”
Last night my 8 year old son told me; “I don’t like the way I’m formed. I don’t like this body. My friends look better than me. They’re faster, they’re better at sport. I know I’m not really any good – I like playing, but it doesn’t make me happy anymore because I just wish I was better all the time, at everything and I’m tired of it”
I was instantly smothered in guilt. The kind of guilt that comes with the realization that you’ve been unknowingly dumping all your own insecurities onto your child.
How naive I was to think that because I didn’t have girls, I didn’t need to be cautious.
I have spoken out loud about my “fat thighs” and how I wish my nose was smaller. I’ve said I wanted to be better at this or that. I’ve said i don’t like what I’m wearing or how I look and he’s seen me crumble when I fail because I’m “not good enough”
I’ve been uncensored in voicing my own insecurities because it never occurred to me that little boys ears were listening.
I never thought that he would see himself as anything short of wonderful. He is so loved, so talented and so brilliant. I love who he is, I assumed he did too.
He’s growing. He is becoming curious and more emotional. He is half way between being a baby and becoming a man. Hes learning who he is. This is an important time. We talk about stuff. We talk about religion and social issues. We discuss history and outer space. We talk about girls and relationships. He questions me about where babies come from. He knows how the world works and suddenly he is unsure of his place in it because I have subconsciously taught him that he should. But that is not what I want for him.
I say all the “right” things. I tell him he is clever. I tell him he makes me proud. I tell him he’s beautiful & unique and I mean it all. But because he’s a boy, he’s “tough” so, I also tell him that I expect more from him sometimes. I tell him he knows better. I tell him he’s “gross” when he’s all sweaty. I tell him that “looks ridiculous, get changed”.
When he protests an outfit, I tell him to get over it instead of asking him why. I teach him to question things and then tell him I know best. I tell him to be proud of who he is then complain about how my body has changed.
When he refers to himself as “fat” I brush it off, because he doesn’t really think that, he doesn’t mean it, right?
He’s a boy, naturally, he’s got thick skin.
But that’s a myth. He is more than just “a boy” and I know that.
Probably better than anyone else in the world, I know him best of all.
And he is just like me.
He feels like he doesn’t fit in anywhere. He is unsure of himself. I don’t want him growing up hindered by those insecurities.
I should know better. I feel like I have failed him.
I haven’t been here before, I’m taking it all as it comes, making mistakes and making up for them. I forgive myself pretty easily because there’s a lot of guesswork in parenting and we can’t always get it right. But I wish I had seen this sooner. I wish I had realized that even as a boy, he can be just as unsure of himself as I was as a girl.
I’ve often seen posts and articles to encourage your daughters to love themselves. To be proud of their bodies – “how to create a healthy body image” – and I’ve bypassed them mostly because, I have sons and body image isn’t a key factor on the spectrum of raising boys.
It is now. I’ve been foolish.
I need to practice self love, embrace my flaws and celebrate my weaknesses so that my sons can see its OK. So they can love who they are, as I do. No more body shaming. No more telling myself I am not enough. No more self loathing.
I’ve run a fine line between being a tough parent & being careless and it’s become strikingly apparent to me, I may have crossed that line too many times now and I am so sorry.
I have slammed myself in front of him again and again and made him think its OK to not like who you are.
And its not. Because kid, you are something special and you need to know that. From now on, I will make sure you see the value in who you are by appreciating my own.