“That’s why you black and ugly…”
Somebody is saying that to your baby girl at recess today. And, unless you have told her otherwise, she is going to believe it.
If you are not in the habit of telling your daughter that she is beautiful, valued and worthy of love and respect, today is a good day to start.
It is not okay to say “You think you cute!” or, whether being serious or playful, calling her ugly or teasing her about her skin color or her hair texture. You think the world beyond your home isn’t already doing that? It is.
If you haven’t been building your little girl up by OPENLY AND VERBALLY expressing and confessing your love to her with compliments and affirming statements, by the time she reaches me to talk about healthy relationships in 8th to 12th grade, it’s tough trying to lay that foundation.
The single most important relationship your child will have is the one they have with self. But how they love and envision themselves start with you. Your words matter.
I am not a parent (yet), but I have incredibly loving parents. Together, throughout my life, they have used language like this:
“Nique, you look so pretty!”
“Hi, ‘my African Queen’ or ‘my Black Princess’!” (my dad says this to me regularly)
“Oh honey, you’re so beautiful.”
“Nique! I love your hair!”
“Your hair is so beautiful.”
“I love the way you look.”
“I love you, Nique.”
Feel free to borrow these statements for your daughter. If you are not accustomed to putting such words together and saying them to your child, though, it could feel clumsy to do so at first. But practice. Maybe it’s even helpful to practice the phrases in a mirror to yourself–chances are, you could use some self-love too.
And this is important because, when you don’t say it, your daughter is grasping for attention elsewhere. All of those explicit and inappropriate comments about her body coming from strangers when she walks down the street feels good when ain’t nobody ever told her she was pretty. Any “compliment” will do.
We must do better as aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, teachers and other members of the community in building our babies up–our daughters AND sons. But moms, dads: it must start at home, on a daily basis, vocally expressed with and by YOU.