I believe that parents should begin building their young children’s self-esteem from day one. I never really thought that self-esteem was of much importance until a lack there of stripped me of my best friend.
For as long as I can remember, my mom has always taken every opportunity to tell me how smart, kind and beautiful I am. Even as a tiny tot I remember her looking me square in the eyes and saying “You are soooo pretty.” As a matter of fact, she said it so much that when other people would pay me compliments, I would simply reply “I know.” Even still, she never neglected to make sure that I knew my worth and innately felt unique, intelligent and beautiful inside and out.
On the contrary, my childhood best friend had a much different esteem experience. From early childhood, she had always been shapely for her age. While most of her peers were either skin and bones or battling baby fat, she already possessed her womanly figure. At a time when many girls feel uncomfortable with their changing bodies, instead of encouragement and kind words from her family, she received negativity, scorn and was forced to hate and hide her shape.
Years later, as an independent adult outside of parental control, instead of seeking healthy relationships that would build her self-esteem, she chose to follow the all too familiar path of degradation. Boyfriend after boyfriend would keep her dependent upon them, and would use her insecurities to make them feel better about themselves. Boyfriends that much like her parents would confuse the beauty of the womanly figure with obesity. Boyfriends that would sneak in like a thief in the night and strip her of any mind, soul, or social life of her own. Boyfriends that would hold any bit of self-esteem she had in her under water until it drowned and died. Boyfriends that would abuse her and keep her silent by implanting lies that no one cared about her but them. Boyfriends that force her best friend to fear that one day not only will she lose her best friend mentally, but physically as well, to the tyranny of a man.
In my mind, maybe this could have been prevented if she was just told that she was “Soooo pretty” by someone. Maybe she would love herself enough not to let others demean her for their sake if she had been taught to love herself and her body the way it was. I will never stop stressing the importance of self-esteem because now I know; it can be the difference between mental life and death.
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