A FATHER’S WORDS

I said, “Daddy, on a scale of 1-10, what am I?”

He replied, “You are a 7.”

There are some memories that stick with us for a lifetime. I still remember sitting with my dad one night and hearing him say he thought Sherry Belafonte was beautiful. I sat up straight and took notice. I want to look just like her when I grow up. To me, my dad knew everything and if he said she was beautiful, then it was so, and I wanted to be beautiful too! Shortly after that night, I asked my dad to rank my physical appearance on a scale of 1-10. My dad pondered the question and then responded, “7.” Now of course a 7 is not terrible, but to me it equated to 70%; therefore I had been ruled to be average. I was devastated! Unbeknownst to my dad, his words would play a role in shaping my delicate self-esteem. His assessment of my appearance would reverberate in my head for years to come. I found myself wanting to prove to him and to myself that I wasn’t “just” a 7: I was beautiful like Sherry. When I got older, I went to night clubs-in part, because I loved the attention, which I naively assumed meant I was beautiful. I also found myself dating the “wrong” people because they affirmed me.

Years later I asked my dad why he didn’t tell me I was a 10 that night. He apologized and stated that he didn’t want me to be disappointed if other people disagreed. Unfortunately, my dad failed to realize that if he had told me I was a 10 I wouldn’t have cared what other people thought.

Beauty is only skin deep. It is not important and yet, if we are honest with ourselves we know it is still desirable. We only have to look at today’s advertising to recognize the value society places on it. The words spoken by my dad made an indelible impression on me and helped set the tone for how I parent my boys. Appearance is not everything, and I don’t want my boys to find their self-worth in their looks. However, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t tell them how awesome, handsome, kind, and smart they are. I want them to know that there will always be at least one person who thinks they are a 10 in every way! I also want them to know other attributes are far more important than their appearance. I want them to be kind, intelligent, humble, successful, etc… so I incorporate many of these terms into my daily mantra. Max often asks me why I feel the need to tell him how much I love him every day! Apparently, he thinks it is overkill. As their mother, I possess the power to shape how my boys view themselves on both a superficial and non-superficial level. My hope is that if they know I think they are 10s, flaws and all, they will be less likely to seek affirmation from others.

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This week as I reflected on how my words and actions can impact my boys, I had another sewing lesson and made my second pencil skirt! I love that my boys get to witness their mommy taking time at the end of the day to prioritize my creative endeavors. I certainly hope they will be inspired by my dedication to my new found passion. Are there childhood memories that have stuck with you? How have they shaped you or shaped how you parent?

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17 thoughts on “A FATHER’S WORDS

  1. That was one of those “parenting moments” that we wish we could take back! I’m sure all parents can identify with me. Sometimes parenting can be filled with triumphs and regrets. We hope the triumphs outweigh the regrets. We try to “keep it moving” and hope to do better next time. As a Seasoned parent of six I cannot emphasize enough the importance of Affirmation.

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  2. I thought you were going to say that he told you that you were a ten to allow room for growth. Sometimes of people think they’ve already made it to the highest skill rating there’s no need to strive. But by telling you you were at 7 he gave you room to strive and become more. Actually all of you girls are beautiful physically. You’re quite a knockout and well rounded individual other areas as well.

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    1. Thanks! It definitely makes sense to want to give your children room to grow. The problem is not knowing how they will internalize it. He is a great dad and I know he had no idea how those words would affect me.

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  3. I admire you for sharing something so personal. I am sure we have all been shaped by experiences like this, but may not have the insight to realize how it played out in our lives or the courage to admit it. There is no doubt that as parents we all will make mistakes, but as parents it is also important to reflect on the experiences we suffered as kids, lest we repeat them. It is especially hard when you internalize the pressure to be beautiful and to doubt you live up to those expectations. I want my kids to know we are all beautiful, and yet we all think we fall short. Those are universal truths, I believe. The number “7” is not a truth, it is meaningless (though understandably hurtful). I think by sticking to your passions and interests, you will show your kids that there are more important things than personal appearance, even if your kid are totally and utterly perfect 🙂

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  4. Camille I’m sure your father’s intentions were good, his love and acceptance of you was very important back then. Now your love and acceptance of yourself is most important, and the love and acceptance of your husband & sons aswell. The initial male relationship witj your father allowed for newer male relationships with those 3 males in your heart & home. You are blessed…..rock. on #10! Love ya

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    1. I agree he had good intentions. I just didn’t process it the way he thought I would. I do feel blessed to have my boys. In the meantime Im trying to be very careful about what I say to them. Love you back!

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  5. I love this! Especially how you call out that if he had said 10 no one else would have mattered… I think it’s so easy to say something small that will make such a big impact on a kids life.

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    1. I agree. I know my dad was shocked when I mentioned it years later. I really hope I don’t make the same mistake and yet I know none of us is perfect so undoubtedly I’ll have parenting regrets as well.

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  6. That reminds me of that movie “The Way Back” where the kid’s stepfather tells him that on a scale of 1 to 10, he’s a 3. If I had a child who asked me that, I would say, “In my opinion, you’re a 10!” Sometimes parents think that being blatantly honest is the best policy, or that they don’t want their children to get a “swollen head,” but there is nothing wrong with assuring your child that, in your eyes, they are wonderful!

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    1. I agree. I just had this debate with someone who was concerned their kid would be arrogant if they told her she was beautiful. I disagreed bc I think it is so important that children know their parents think they are awesome in every way. There will be many ppl who will tell them differently…parents don’t need to do so as well.

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