The campaign to ban the word "bossy" being said to young girls seems to have been going viral in the media in the past few days. I don't really have a stance one way or the other about the word bossy in particular, but I do like the intention behind the campaign. I'm very conscious of the way I speak to my daughter even though shes only 7 months old. I know how much the words you hear from your parents and immediate family can affect your inner voice. Unfortunately I can only really remember the negative things I was told. They've been on repeat in my head since a young age and they affected my sense of self worth greatly.
Being told I was the most selfish bitch they'd ever met by a family member wasn't the greatest self esteem builder. It doesn't help that I also had my grandmother always apologising to other people for my behaviour (when I wasn't even doing anything wrong). When we went to NZ on a holiday tour my grandmother was always apologising to the rest of the tour group for me and my brother because we were the only kids on the tour. We were 14 and 11 and nobody had a problem with us as we weren't doing anything wrong. All I can put it down to is she thought we'd ruined everyone else's holiday by being there because she assumed they wouldn't want children on their holiday. That, or she was just plain embarrassed to be on holidays with us. She still to this day apologises to people for me even being present at certain places. Even as an adult I can't help but get disheartened when she does that, like I'm not good enough.
I'm determined to try my best to ensure my daughter doesn't have a negative inner monologue or low self worth like I did growing up. I try to encourage her and give her positive reinforcement as often as possible. I want her to remember the positive things I've said. That's not to say I don't ever get frustrated with her, but when I do I try to stop and remember shes just a baby before I say anything. She knows what the word no means, but I don't want her to know what the word bitch means. Shes the one thing I've wanted most in my life and I never want her to look back and feel like she was a burden to me or unloved.
Similar to the "bossy" campaign, there's been a lot of talk for the past few years about not using the words pretty or beautiful to little girls, so they don't associate their self worth with their physical appearance. I somewhat agree with this, but I still tell her she's cute all the time. I think cute is a broader term so its not completely related to her appearance. Even though she is beautiful, of course (totally bias).
I also say things like you're so smart or you're so clever when she learns new skills. I think its important to acknowledge all the good things no matter how tiny they may seem. I want to celebrate all her little wins so most of all she realises that I notice her. I don't want her to ever feel invisible like I sometimes did.
I want to make sure she feels seen, heard and loved throughout her childhood.
I always remember the line from The Help - You is kind, you is smart, you is important.