Monday, April 20, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on The Wall!

Today I am posting for the Beautiful Like Me Project, a project dedicated to raising awareness about the lack of self-esteem and poor body image in today's youth. We are inviting anyone and everyone to please join us in spreading the word. Please feel free to join in anytime. Also please take a minute to see the other Beautiful Like Me Posters (listed below)! Together we can help today's youth have a positive self-image!

This weeks topic is:
"What do today’s children and teens feel pressured to imitate? Why?"

A friend recently stated that "... my children are mirrors ..." and although we were talking about something very different, it struck me. It just seemed like such a powerful statement, are my children truly a mirror of myself? After much thought and a whole lot of observations of my children, I do believe that there is a lot of truth in this statement. Children's first and probably most important role model is their parents and/or primary care provider. But I think this comes naturally, there is not the pressure to imitate. So as a parent I need to remember that my children are indeed watching and I need to set the best examples as I can, I also need to be aware that there are other influences.

I believe that these other influences can vary some depending on the lifestyle of the family. As a homeschooling family we have been lucky to avoid some of the pressures that a public school offers. When I was a teen this was huge ... there were others with better clothes, more money,
better this and that OR so I thought! I am very thankful that my children do not have the pressures to try to 'fit in' at a public school because it can be very difficult.

So as always I was struggling with where to go with my post, I decided to interview my daughter (who is fourteen) and here is what she had to say:

Me: "What do you think that teens feel pressure to imitate?"
Caitlyn: "Celebrities and stuff they see in magazines and on TV."
Me: "Why do you think teens feel this pressure?"
Caitlyn: "Because that is what is suppose to be cool and they want to be cool."
Me: "Do yo feel these pressures?"
Caitlyn: "No note really."
Me: "Why not?"
Caitlyn: "I think , well 1. because I am homeschooled, 2. the way you raised me and 3. I don't see the point in focusing on stuff like that when you could be doing something to help the world."
Me: "What does being homeschooled have to do with it?"
Caitlyn: I am not influenced by the school and stuff. Because there is so many kids there and they talk and rumors and stuff and I do not have to deal with that.
Me: "What kind of things are teens imitating?"
Caitlyn: "Like how much they weigh, look a certain way, buy certain brands."
Me: "Is there anything wrong with teens imitating celebrities?"
Caitlyn: "Yes and no, I think that as a person you can do as you want so if you want to act like someone else fine but some things are not so healthy and you should just be yourself, not someone else."
Me: "What would not be healthy?"
Caitlyn: "Like with weight, starving yourself to be like someone else would not be healthy."
Me: If you were a celebrity, what kind of role model would you be?"
Caitlyn: "I don't know, I would just act like myself."
Me: "Do you think celebrities have a responsibility to be good role models?
Caitlyn: "No, is is not really their responsibility, it is more people responsibility to realize that they are people too. Maybe it is the media that makes them out to be these amazing people that we should imitate when they are just people with a job."

And then I lost her to her book!!

I think that Caitlyn has a great outlook and is not pressured to imitate anyone. I would like to say that it was because of my remarkable parenting skills BUT I can not. I do think that I help ... mostly by talking about it a lot but also Caitlyn has a confidence about her that she was born with. I do wonder sometimes how this would be different if she had the daily pressures of public school but honestly I am thankful that we are not dealing with it!!

I also know that each child is very different and even though Caitlyn is bubbling with positive self-esteem, my second child, Allyson is not and it is even more important that keep communication lines open with her. And then I have four boys who are all very different and I am sure will each have their own needs regarding self image!

So I guess for me, I find it difficult to really answer this question but as a parent I must be aware that there are many outside influences in this world and we need to help the very individual needs of all our children! So please take a minute or two and open up a conversation with the young one in you life about their self image, it could change their life!

In addition to myself check out who else has committed to this project, I will be adding as people post:
My Co-hosts: WickedStepMom and Tricia at Shout

Judy Haley at CoffeeJitters
Cate at Nature's Child
Lisa at Use Your Wisdom
Lisa at Crazy Adventures in Parenting
Tricia at Shout

Please join us anytime, if you post leave a message with your link and I will add you to my list! Together we can make a difference, each story told touches someones life!

Here you can look at past Beautiful Like Me Posts!

Here is our topic for the next Beautiful Like Me Post and you can always go to the Project Main Page for a list of topics and other information.

Next post scheduled for Monday, May 4th
What features/qualities would we like today’s children to see as beautiful?


Wicked Step Mom said...

Great Post Amy! And Caitlyn, thank you for taking the time to answer your mom's questions. I really think it offers some insight.

Mon said...

Great post. I so enjoyed the interview.There's nothing like hearing it from own mouths.

I'm glad you pointed out that each child is different and therefore has different needs. And we need to approach them with that in mind.

Cate said...

Ms. Amy...Caitlyn shows us what a truly fantastic job you are doing. What in intelligent, articulate girl you have!

(Finally...I posted too. I'm posting more than one blog at NC today, so it took a bit of time to nail them both down.)

Lisa P said...

I love the interview idea! Way to go right to the source. It's reassuring to read the words of a confident and well adjusted teen. I'm sure school plays a role in the pressure kids feel. Because my kids will most likely not be homeschooled, I feel I need to start getting a strategy in place. I don't doubt for one minute a benefit to homeschooling is sparing kids from having to endure so many social influences while trying to learn.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Great post! Way to go with your daughter, she sounds like she does perfectly fine. Good job momma :)

Mines up!

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

what a great post - and so so true about the mirror!

I never say in front of my kids that I need to go on a diet or I am fat or that I feel ugly or anything negative like that!

Cascia said...

Sounds like you have a wonderful daughter. She has a good head on her shoulders. I think she is absolutely correct in saying that the way she was raised and the fact that she is home schooled has influenced her into not falling for peer pressure. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing.