My Mom Never Taught Me to Love My Body…and Other Beautiful Lessons I’ve Learned

SONY DSC

Love your body.

As a graduate of the social work program, I have a tendency to have a Facebook newsfeed filled with ‘woman-empowerment’ related articles. Over the past couple of months, I began to notice more and more articles written by moms trying to teach their girls to ‘love their bodies’. The wording varied, but it seemed to be a movement around showing pride over the natural body, appreciating different sizes and shapes, and building confidence.

I got sucked in.

I began to watch my 5-year-old closely and soon began to worry if I was doing enough to strengthen her self-image. I caught myself imagining conversations down the road about eating disorders, appropriate clothing, and treating your body with respect. It wasn’t long after that I became convinced there should have been a better screening process for who was allowed to birth and raise little girls.

A month later I found myself staring out the window at my parents’ house as I continued to worry about teaching my daughter to ‘love her body’.

Maybe I should compliment her more about being kind to distract her.

Maybe I should do more to teach her that everyone is beautiful in their own way.

Maybe I should . . . let my parents raise her until she’s older.

And that’s when it hit me.

My mom never taught me to love my body. My mom never taught me to appreciate different shapes and sizes of people or that there was beauty in getting old.

She was too busy.

She was too busy teaching me how to cook as I’d spend hours sitting on the kitchen counter with my heels banging against the cupboards. She was too busy praying with us about being thankful and blessed. She was too busy thinking about the families from the school that she worked with as a parent advocate. She was too busy teaching me how to think of others.

Maybe she forgot.

Or maybe she was so busy being thankful and serving others that she didn’t think of it.

I never remember watching my mom spend time getting ready in front of a mirror (in fact, I don’t remember us owning a full-length mirror until we were older) or agonizing over an outfit. We never went for manicures as a ‘pick-me-up’ or a way to feel pretty.

As I was watching out the window I began to realize that I was too busy worrying that I was missing it. I was missing the lake and watching the wind bend the trees. I was missing my healthy daughter swinging from the neighbor’s high rope (wait . . . is that too high?) squealing with delight.

I was missing being thankful.

Not long after, we were driving on our camping trip out west and I turned to see my daughter riding with her head out the window feeling the wind in her face. She turned to look at me and said, “I’m thankful that God made so many amazing views for us to look at, mom. He must have really known what we’d like.”

I’m thankful that God made so many amazing views for us to look at, mom. He must have really known what we’d like. ~ Five-year old daughter

I hope she keeps being too busy. Too busy looking out windows and being thankful. Too busy serving others. Too busy enjoying time with family and friends.

Do I hope she loves her body? I guess.

Even more though, I hope that she is so busy living life that she doesn’t really notice.

Which brings it all back to me.

Perhaps instead of teaching my daughter to ‘love her body’,  I’ll just keep teaching her to look out, to be thankful, and to serve others.

~ Katie Trotter

Katie Trotter with her daughterI’m Katie, the wife of a supportive, funny, (did I mention extremely handsome?) husband and mother of a sweet, spunky, reptile-loving 5-year-old girl. A year ago I left a job being the Executive Director of a non-profit to home-school our daughter and do contract work. It’s been a fun and challenging opportunity that I wouldn’t change for the world.

Over the years I have learned that God is FAITHFUL and that His love and grace allow our hearts to heal, forgive, and love more than we ever thought possible.

 

(May contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
100 Ways to Love eBooks TinyOur books are now available:  100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson

If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

6 Truths Every Daughter Needs to Know

6 Truths Every Daughter Needs to Know

So I guess I’ll begin with a confession.

I thought it would be enough for our girls to simply grow up in a Christian family.

I thought it would take care of everything. That they’d grow up secure and unafraid having been raised in a home where they are loved so dearly. A home where we pray, read the Bible, and are part of a church body. Each one of them holding a special place in our hearts.

I thought it would be enough.

Yet I’ve come to realize that our girls need more than that to flourish and walk confidently. They need to hear certain things from me and they need to hear it repeatedly and in many different ways. There are important truths she really needs to understand.

6 Truths Every Daughter Needs to Know

She is beautiful. And I’m not talking merely about the “outward appearance” but that this girl is beautiful in every way. She must be convinced that she is a lovely person who does lovely things. It’s important – even critical – that she feels beautiful.

She is bright. Every one of our daughters is intelligent and creative – each in her own way. She has something wonderful to offer the world. She’s using her mind and growing in wisdom.

She is precious. She has to understand that she is highly valued. So she can hold her head up high and not look to others – especially the wrong others – for her esteem. She is a precious jewel who needs to know she’s treasured.

She is delightful. Just the way she is. Today and every day. She doesn’t need to change or try to be like anyone else. She needs to know that I delight in her unique gifting, her funny ways, and her sweet smile.

She is protected. No need to feel like she’s on her own. Because she isn’t.  She has loving parents who are serious about looking out for her. Safe and secure. We’ll do all we can to protect her from harm.

She is loved. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Yes, I thought so too. But we can’t take it for granted that she believes this and feels it right down to the tip of her little toes. I have to tell her and to show her and to lavish her with my love.

As sad as it is, we live in a world that is constantly informing our young girls that they are not pretty enough, not smart enough, not thin enough and not good enough.  These are lies. So I want each one of our girls to know the truth about herself.

She is beautiful, bright, precious, delightful, protected, and loved.

And that, my dear girls, is the plain and simple truth.

6 Truths Every Daughter Should Know

In His grace,
Signature small

100 Ways to Love eBooks TinyCheck out our NEW eBooks, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love to Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson

* If you want these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

Inspiring Dreams in Our Daughters

inspiring dreams in our daughters

I guess I was always a dreamer.

Often lost in my own world. So many things I wanted to do and so many places I wanted to go.

As a young girl, my heart was full of wild dreams and high hopes. I wanted to meet wonderful people, read great books, and travel around the world. I wanted to learn other languages, play Chopin, and minister to the needy. I longed to become a wife and mother.

Yes, lots of big dreams floating around in that little girl’s head. And, by God’s grace, many of those dreams came true.

Like enjoying dreamy daughters of my own.

Now here they are imagining all the things that they’d like to do and places they’d like to explore. How I love listening to their grand ideas and beautiful visions! I’m thrilled to cheer them on as they seek God’s calling on their young lives.

How Do You Inspire Dreams in Your Daughter?

Accept that her dreams might be different than your own. One of our daughters hopes to get her novel published. One is interested in graphic design and another in event-planning. Yikes! I’ve wanted to do a lot of things, but never wanted to do any of those. But that’s okay. It’s exciting to see the variety of interests each girl has and the different way each one is gifted.

Give her opportunities to develop her talents. This is the fun part. Brainstorm and seek out all the possible ways your daughter can gain experience and strengthen her gifts. Music lessons. Travel. Political campaigns. Photography. Business meetings. Half-marathons. We’ve done all these.and much more. See what you can come up with together.

Calm her fears. I guess we all have our insecurities and worries. What if they don’t like me? What if I fail? What if I change my mind? What if I’m not good at it? Umm…I can so relate to every one of those questions. And I’m a Big Girl now! So yeah, our daughters need to hear our encouraging and comforting words. They can do whatever God has called them to do and they just might need you to remind them of that fact – often.

Protect her from harm. So while I’m all for inspiring big ideas in our daughters, I’m also concerned for their safety. I actually don’t want our girls roaming the streets of Paris – like I did when I was 19 – even if it does put a damper on their plans. Some dreams aren’t worth the danger. At times we’ve had to get creative to come up with a way that she can venture out, but not be put in an overly risky situation.

Affirm the joys of being a wife and mother.  Maybe this one surprises you. But, yes, I do encourage our daughters in their hope to marry and raise children some day. While they have to hold this hope loosely – not knowing what God has planned for them – it has a place at the top of their list of dreams. And why not? Out of all things I’ve gone and “done”, this one has brought me the greatest joy.

In some ways – in many ways, really – I’m still a dreamer. Just today the girls and I were thinking up all kinds of things we could imagine getting to do some day. We talked about traveling, missions, and meeting people. We couldn’t help wondering where The Lord might be leading in the next year or two. So many possibilities.

Hmm….I do wonder.

Are you a bit of a dreamer too? In what ways do you encourage the dreams of your daughter? I’d love to hear!

In His grace,
Signature small

100 Ways to Love eBooks TinyCheck out our NEW eBooks, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love to Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson

* If you want these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

Helping Your Daughter with Healthy, Loving Friendships

Helping Your Daughter with Friendships

So I’m a big fan of friendship.

I believe good friendships are an important – and necessary – part of a person’s life. We were never meant to be loners. God intended that we learn to love and walk with others. You can see that everywhere in Scripture.

I get that.

But here’s something that I didn’t really “get” until the last few years. Friendship is a skill that can be learned and pursued.

I wish I would have understood that better when I was a young girl. I think it would have helped me in my relationships with the other girls. I guess I thought friendship just kind of happened—you know, either “worked” or “didn’t work”.

So I’m teaching our daughters differently. I want to help them understand what it means to find a friend and how to be a good friend.

Here are some ways to help our daughters with healthy, loving friendships….

Simple first step: Be friendly. This is harder for some girls than it is for others. But we want our girls to eventually overcome their own shyness and insecurities and reach out to others. It’s such a blessing to see a smiling, friendly face.

Reach out to all. (James 2:1-4) Don’t just look to the pretty or the popular, but have a heart for those who might be standing back or go unnoticed.

Practice friendship with siblings. It’s never made much sense to me that someone would be ugly to a brother or sister, then sweet-as-pie to everyone else. I suggest that home is a terrific place to work on your friendship skills.

Invest in a few special friendships. Naturally, you can’t have deep friendships with everyone. I have a few girlfriends whom I have purposed to be close with because of their example and encouragement to me – and I’d like the same for my daughters. (I Thess.5:11)

Seek the counsel of your parents. (Prov. 6:20) As an older and wiser woman, I’ve had a lot of experience with people and friendships. A mom can usually recognize those who’ll have much to offer and those who come with a caution. A daughter would do well to heed her advice.

Avoid gossip. (Prov. 16:28) Admittedly, this is a huge temptation when girls get together (even Big Girls!). But there’s nothing quite so destructive as discussing other people. Decide this kind of talk has no place in your friendships.

Be honest. Speak the truth in love (Eph.4:15). Girls sometimes avoid communicating the difficult stuff because they don’t want to “hurt anyone”, but it’s also important to say the hard things in a loving manner. Learning to speak up when you’re offended or disappointed is valuable in a close friendship.

Be forgiving. (Eph. 4:32) Girls get their feelings hurt. They just do. But we shouldn’t hold a grudge or grow bitter. Practicing forgiveness is necessary in long-lasting friendships.

Be prayerful. I’ve encouraged our daughters to pray for the kinds of friends they so deeply desire. They’re also praying that they become the kind of friend they want to be to others.

Be loving. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth….(I Cor. 13)

In some ways, this is only a short list of what goes into a good friendship – but it’s a strong start!  I’d be very interested to hear what you would add to this list as well?

And next week, I’ll be talking about the friendships in our sons’ lives, as well. Some things are the same, of course, but I’ve noticed boys can have their own challenges too.

In His grace,
Signature small

100 Ways to Love eBooks TinyCheck out our NEW eBooks, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love to Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson

* If you want these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, THe 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).