Just when you think you’ve handled one self-confidence issue with your girls, another pops up. Spin the “this will make your daughter insecure” roulette wheel and see where it lands.
Maybe it’s the #KylieJennerLipChallenge. Girls were worried that they weren’t beautiful because they didn’t have pouty lips, so they put their lips in shot glasses to create a suction effect and puff up their lips. (I’m not joking.) Of course, this backfired, and you can find all sorts of lip-challenge-gone-awry photos online. In another “well, duh” moment, Kylie Jenner admits she has temporary lip fillers because “it’s just an insecurity of mine and it’s what I wanted to do.” We’ve come to the point of first-world problems where the thickness—or lack thereof—of our lips occupies mental real estate!
Maybe it’s this week’s version of girl drama, which means everyone is crying at home. “Girl One won’t talk to me because Girl Two said she heard that I said something, but I never said that.” And now everyone is giving each other dirty looks and rolling their eyes and talking behind each others’ backs, which makes everyone feel awful.
Maybe it’s because of “a lot of Photoshop in general,” says my daughter. “You feel pressure to be perfect even though you know it’s fake. But you don’t know just how fake it is, so you still wonder.” My daughters are pretty self-assured kiddos and think the whole thigh-gap thing is crazy, but that doesn’t mean they are completely unaffected by the culture around them. No matter how much they accomplish, they still wonder if they are enough and their self-confidence can easily be shaken.
So what can parents of girls do? Here are my four ideas, which have less to do with pouty lips and more to do with a beautiful spirit.
- Keep a healthy perspective on self-confidence. It doesn’t necessarily mean feeling pretty or being popular. It means working hard, being independent, handling disappointment, taking positive risks, and looking beyond themselves. It also means striking the balance found in Romans 12:3: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
- Pick the right friends—for you. In the Official Mom Job Description, it says you have to tell your daughters they are special, valuable, beautiful, and kindhearted. Well, that’s what your daughters believe anyway, so don’t be surprised if they dismiss your claims. Let your friends do the heavy lifting. When you go out with them, occasionally let your daughters tag along. I know you’re desperate to talk to adults, but when you have friends over, don’t always send the girls away to play with the other kids. Let them be part of your conversations. Just by being included, they will learn that self-confidence takes many forms. They will see that people have different gifts and can use them in myriad ways. As they come to admire and look up to your friends, your girls will believe it when those cherished adults tell them they are special.
- Pick the right influences—for them. You can’t pick your child’s friends. In fact, trying to influence them too much will often backfire. But when they are little, you can choose their babysitter, who will end up being a role model. Our family hit the babysitter jackpot, and our daughters learned that it’s cool to play board games, build forts, study geography, and make wire hangars into bubble wands.If they are older, get them involved—in something! Whether sports or music or art or theater or forensics or technology (but not just social media). Using their natural gifts and being part of a team or community will help them learn how to work toward a goal and enjoy their accomplishments.
- Get them serving—for others. Your kids will not jump up and say, “Oh, super, I can’t wait to not watch a movie or stop checking Instagram to go do something for someone else.” But kids don’t always have to be happy, so don’t give in to the whining. A few hours of service to build others up will help build their self-confidence.Offer an elderly couple an hour of help around the house. Our library has a reading program where teens are paired up to read with younger kids. Contact your local nursing home to see if the residents want to play chess or card games, or if they wouldn’t mind listening to your budding pianist. Do a Random Act of Service. Have your kiddos gather clothes for a shelter. Not all service requires a weekly commitment either. Our family volunteers with Honor Flight twice a year, walking veterans out to their cars and bringing their wheelchairs back into the airport.
Have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them!
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. She has one daughter with hazel eyes and curly brown hair and one daughter with blue eyes and straight blonde hair. There’s a chance she’s harped on them once or twice (or more) about being thankful for the way God made them and not wishing for what the other one has been given.