25 Sep - 1 Oct 2015 #777

When little girls grow up

Adults need to be mindful of their words and actions in front of children as they might never forget
Anjana Rajbhandary

Every young mind is fragile and brains are like sponges that soak in the knowledge and unnecessary information the same way without any discrimination.

What may be an off the cuff remark or an act in passing can have a deep impact in a child’s mind and affect them into adulthood. As adults it is our responsibility to take care of our business like adults and not involve children because it only gets messy.

We may be going through a hard time or feeling upset, but it is unfair and selfish to put the burden on a child. Adults need to be careful and mindful of things they say and do in front of children, little siblings, nieces or nephews, because they might never forget. Here are some things you should never tell a young girl.

One of them is: “I am so fat”. What an older role model such as a mother, aunt or older sister says about her body affects the young girl’s body image and she will learn from it. She will learn to be critical of her body from a young age. Tell young girls that it is most important to be healthy and she can be the best version of her shape but she cannot change the shape of her body. Reading magazines and watching television should not make anyone feel bad about how they look, it should only be entertainment.

Another one to avoid is “Men are awful” or words to that effect. Spiteful remarks towards men will make her grow up with the notion that men are bad in general. Just because you had a bad experience does not mean you should ruin her outlook on life. Of course, tell her to be smart and use her judgment, but not stereotype. The one incident of badmouthing men may affect all her relationships with men in the future.

This one is ridiculous and very sexist, and a complete opposite to the last one. “Men will not like you if……” If you have to change who you are to be accepted, how long can you keep up that facade? It gets tiring to continue pretending to be someone you are not. To be with the right guy, tell your little girl that he should like her for just the way she is -- not because she could be taller, thinner, fairer or more obedient.

Before this sounds too negative, there are also some very empowering statements that you can tell to young girls like this one: “You can be anything you want to be and you do not need to be an expert at everything.” This is such a relief. You should always encourage her to follow her dreams while reminding her of reality. If she is not very academically gifted, a profession of a rocket scientist may not be in the near future but you never know. Do not make fun of her dreams, with time she will figure out if it was worth it or not.

My favorite one is, “I am always here for you. I was once that age too so I do not want to put any pressure on you or judge you for the unrealistic expectations of the outside world.” Letting someone know that you are always there for them is the best thing anyone can do, but mean it. She may never call on you for help but knowing that you are there will mean the world to her. And let me tell you, one day as a young girl or a grown woman, she will need you to be there for her and you will have to keep your promise.

Read also:

A little cup of self love, Anjana Rajbhandary

Mind your languages, Mark Turin

Not so happily ever after, Bhrikuti Rai

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