Things Your Little Girl Needs From You
Joyce McFadden’s wirting in The Huffington Post:
In addition to feeling the cultural pressures of sexualization, our daughters also often feel the burden of having little to no support in navigating their sexual development in their own homes. Both young and adult women in my practice and researchconfess struggling with insecurities about their bodies and sexuality. They now look back and see how these insecurities accumulated through childhood and adolescence to culminate in impaired self-esteem that has complicated their love lives. Sadly, they report it led them to feel disconnected from their bodies as well as from the partners they love.
You may think she’s too young to start learning about sex, but she’s already learning whether you think she is or not. Every day, she’s absorbing how the world around her sees female sexuality and the female body, and it will inform the teen and woman she’ll become.
When she’s little, her fundamental questions about adult love will be: What are grown women like, and what do I imagine I’ll be like when I become one? I think for most mothers, we’re totally used to recognizing this projection into their futures in non-sexual ways, like maybe she’ll be a doctor when she grows up. But a little girl’s questions about her gender will transform into more far more tangled ones from adolescence forward. For example, even though young and grown women know on an intellectual level that the following questions are ridiculous, on an emotional level, they can still torment them.
You may not want to think about it, but these are the sorts of incredibly private questions your daughter may soon be asking herself. We know this because it’s borne out in the privacy of therapy sessions, eating disorder statistics, plastic surgery statistics, Internet hits, consumer sales and in tales of cyber-humiliation:
Am I skinny enough to be loved?
Am I pretty enough to be loved?
Am I sexy enough to be loved?
Are my breasts big enough to be loved?
If I text this topless picture of myself, will I feel loved?
Is my labia pink enough and the right shape to be loved?
Will I be loved if I move and sound like the porn stars my peers are learning about sex from?
If you want her to have a fighting chance against these pressures and to be confident enough to select partners who truly care for her, you have to have her back as you raise her.
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