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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Parents’ role in building child’s self-image

One of my workmates has a daughter who is at her early twenties. I have known her since she was in elementary school. She had somewhat plump body and she was a bit tomboy until graduating from senior high school. In 2002 she moved out of town to continue her study. Last year, she was seen again at the office, to visit her mother and she looked very different. She was not plump anymore and looked very feminine with her long hair. So slim was she that my workmates and I suspected that she was an anorexic or bulimic. We felt pity for her. And we were wondering if her mother did not warn her to take care of her health. But then I remembered, this workmate of mine, more than a decade ago, used to complain about her body a lot. She always felt she was plump although I thought she was not.
I assume that the way the mother valued her body has influenced the way the daughter saw her own body. “It is really a big disaster to gain weight, although only a little,” once she said, when attending a workmate’s wedding party. Therefore, she didn’t eat anything but some slices of watermelon.
Some time ago, another workmate saw the mother purging after having meal. It means the mother as well as the daughter suffer from the same thing.
*****
I must say that I was somewhat anorexic when I was at junior high. Some friends (especially a boy I used to have a crush on) said that I would look prettier when slimmer. Therefore in senior high, I used to fast outside Ramadhan month without eating ‘sahur’ (having meal early in the morning before dawn) and successfully decreased my weight. Luckily I didn’t do it so terribly that I suffered from stomach disorder.
Realizing that it was not good for health, I keep telling Angie to love herself, and feel at ease with her body, slim or plump, especially after Angie entered adolescence. I opine that as the mother, I have a big role in helping Angie shape positive attitude toward herself. After that, I also ask her to do the same thing toward her friends. “God never creates ugly things. Human beings give values that are sometimes not necessary. Appreciate everyone the same way.” Still, sometimes she finds a schoolmate who says rude and ugly things toward Angie, and she complains to me.
“Honey, his mother or his father doesn’t teach him to appreciate God’s creature fairly. It even means that inside his heart he feels something wrong or he lacks of something so that he keeps looking for weaknesses in other people, especially physically. He deserves to get pity instead, not you.” I was trying to comfort her.
*****
Meanwhile I still remember at kindergarten, Angie did not like one of her classmates. She kept protesting when her class teacher paired up her with that classmate until this mate felt afraid to Angie. She didn’t tell me about it but her class teacher did. When I asked her why she didn’t like working together that classmate, little Angie said, “She is so slow, not energetic, not lively.” Gosh!!! I never taught her such things, to treat her classmates differently based on their intelligence.
However, after Angie entered adolescence, I did tell her to value people on intelligence more than physical things, especially in looking for a boyfriend. :)
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1 comment:

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