Our children (yours and mine) have been very much on my heart this week, so I've decided to tackle one of our survey questions from a woman with a similar concern. By chance (which I don't happen to believe in), my thoughts on this topic align well with our concluding podcast on body image.
Next week, Donna is going to wrap up the body image survey series with her excellent answer to the question, "How do I stop obsessing about this and blaming myself for his problem?"
How has society's definition of beauty affected their body image? How has this experience changed how they will talk to their sons/daughters (if they have children) regarding sexuality and body image?
Dawn: My husband and I do a media literacy workshop for teens entitled The Price of Happiness. The talk includes the following quote:
“Advertising at its best is making people feel that without their product, you're a loser. Kids are very sensitive to that. If you tell them to buy something, they are resistant. But if you tell them they'll be a dork if they don't, you've got their attention. You open up emotional vulnerabilities and it's very easy to do with kids because they're the most emotionally vulnerable.” — Nancy Shalek, president of an advertising agency
I believe it’s important to arm our kids (and ourselves) with the knowledge of the world’s determination to run them down and manipulate them. However, even more than telling them what the enemy (and the industries he manipulates) is up to, we need to model health to them.
Countering the Lies
Modeling a healthy body image (and healthy sexuality) is something every mom can begin to do today – even those of us who have made gargantuan mistakes in this area in the past (refer to the first body image podcast for more on my big gaff). However, this ball is not in our court alone. In Pure Sex, by Gordon Dalby, his wife, Dr. Mary Andrews-Dalby, writes the following:
“Many clients have told me that they observed what kind of women their fathers were attracted to, and that’s what they would strive to become. Unfortunately, these women were not talking about their mothers. Rather, they noticed as young girls how their father’s eye wandered while they drove down the street, and what he was sneaking to see online or in a magazine… Fathers must teach women that their beauty is more that skin deep—not only by their words, but more importantly, by checking their own lust.”
I know that’s not what we really want to hear… but I think it’s important that we do. If we are living with a man active in his addiction, we are fighting a losing battle to raise children who are sexually and emotionally whole. In fact, we’re fighting a pretty darn tough battle even if our husband is doing well in recovery.
A Father Who Redeems
My comfort is that my God’s arm is NOT too short to save (can you tell I’ve been reading Isaiah the last few weeks). My sons have struggled with these issues. My daughter, just turned 12-years-old, is in the thick of the battle right now.
But whatever Satan throws at her, I’m praying God redeems it. And I’m asking to be part of that redemption. I’ve been part of the harm with my bad choices (influenced by trauma) and now I’m looking to God to show me how to be part of the healing – with my words of affirmation, my actions of self-acceptance, my love that invites vulnerability, and by the standard I challenge my husband to rise to.
God bless our children and bring them into the inheritance He has for them.