Jun 24 2014
I’ve always wanted my daughter to be able to shine and feel good about her personal accomplishments, and so, like many parents who put their children into copious amounts of activities, I too have done that for my 7-year-old. She has tried soccer, tennis, piano, and competitive dance. In the academic arena, I have placed her in multiple summer school courses and I have her doing extra reading, writing, math, and even some educational documentaries thrown in for good measure. My hope was that her involvement in these activities would make her well-rounded and build her self-esteem.
But, what if I am creating a “cocky” kid?
Recently at my daughter’s Open House she was showered with praise for how well she had been doing in school, but her teacher also told us that she was being bossy with the other kids and sometimes acting in a “superior” manner toward them. When she was asked about it, she said, “Well, I’m smarter than they are.” Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 23 2014
“NO BODY TALK!”
This is the refrain commonly heard at Eden Village, a Jewish organic farming camp, featured in the New York Times, where boys and girls can talk about anything under the sun except their bodies.
Eden Village joins a growing number of summer camps that discourage any discussion of clothing, nails, hair, or body parts. That means no insecure or negative body comments (“Do I look fat?”), or compliments (“I love your dress”). Even checking out one’s own reflection is discouraged. (A sign on the bathroom reads: “Don’t check your body, check your soul.”) Read the rest of this entry →
May 5 2014
My 7-year-old daughter who, as we previously determined, is nothing like me in personality, also looks nothing like me. Which is why I can say, without a trace of self-interest, that she is a beautiful girl. She has luxurious black hair, olive skin, huge chocolate colored eyes, eye lashes that go on forever, and a perennial smile on her face–just like her dad. I constantly tell my daughter that she is beautiful. (My brother has dubbed her Beauteous Maximus, in Latin).
I know many beautiful women. Having worked in soap operas since 1994, I’d wager I know more beautiful woman than most people. Every year, around Daytime Emmys time, I would leave the house feeling I looked my very best. I’d get to the venue and wonder why I bothered; I wasn’t in these people’s league. I wasn’t in their species. And yet, a majority of these stunning creatures all think there is something wrong with them. Usually because of a lifetime of hearing from well-meaning people–more often than not, moms and dads set the stage for what agents and casting director and “fans” finish–about how they could really stand to lose five pounds. Or get a nose job. Or straighten their hair. Or wear more make-up/different clothes/stand up straight/smile.
I also know women who would be considered objectively unattractive in the conventional sense. And yet their self-image is amazing. Because no one ever told them otherwise. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 7 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a mother. This Shabbat we read Parashat Tetzaveh. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
I’d like to say that I’m the kind of woman who’s never given much thought to clothing and what I wear. I’d like to say that I’ve always just sort of thrown something on, and effortlessly, look pulled together all the time, or don’t, but either way, no matter. I’d like to remember my child-self as one who didn’t think tights were scratchy, who didn’t notice if her undershirt was tucked in, who didn’t have an obsessive penchant for the colors purple and orange, who didn’t mind wearing headbands, two-piece bathing suits, or ankle socks.
I’d like to say that I was and still am highly unselfconscious.
Except I am totally self-conscious, and have always been a bit of a nut when it comes to clothes. I’m not talking in a clotheshorse kind of way, where I’m off spending money on labels and status pieces. No, I’m talking about the much more existential and far less useful ways in which I obsess about how I look. I’ve never worn a bikini, I don’t really enjoy being photographed, and often notice myself fidgeting–with my clothing, my hair, whatever. While my neuroses are (mostly) in check, a healthy dose of anxiety runs through my bloodstream at all times, just to keep me on my toes. And often, this delightful kind of crazy rears its ugly head as I try and dress myself on any given day. Read the rest of this entry →
May 29 2013
I have finally unlocked the secret of parenting. Here it is: Most Of The Time, The Less You Do, The Better Your Kids Will Turn Out.
Counterintuitive? Perhaps. Throwing a goose into the rotors of helicopter parents everywhere? Yes. But true? In many cases, yes: benign neglect is GOOD.
Important caveats: obviously, this theory does not apply to babies, children with special needs, or children who deal with some sort of disability. This also does not absolve you, the parent, of any and all childcare related activities. And, of course, results may vary. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 29 2013
I gave birth to my daughter six months ago, and, a few sleep-deprived weeks later, I realized it was right around the 10th “anniversary” of when I was admitted to a hospital for an eating disorders inpatient program.
When I try to reconcile the memory of my scared, enervated teen self with myself today, as a (somewhat) confident mother of two with visibly muscled biceps from lugging around a giant purse, a diaper bag, a breast pump, a baby, and sometimes a 38-pound 3-year-old, it’s difficult. But I still vividly remember the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and physical weakness. As it turns out, you can be too thin after all. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 3 2012
My sister has five children. All of them are heavily involved in team sports, and thriving–great physical shape, good grades, active social lives, and high self-esteem.
She’s utterly convinced that team sports are crucial to self-esteem building, and that I’d better get my kid started with one–NOW–before he falls hopelessly behind.
First of all, HE’S FIVE. There are lots of reasons to do team sports, but there are even more reasons to build garages for all your BOB trucks. Or put on goggles and swim across the living room. He’s FIVE.
I totally believe in sports, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not so sure that it’s the only path to self-esteem. Read the rest of this entry →