This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer Dee Harlow.  She asked our writers,

How can we raise our children to become self-assured men and women not focused on how they look?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Young girl playing dress-up

Young girl playing dress-up

Dee Harlow of Laos writes: “Under-praise cuteness/beauty? Over praise intelligence/capability? Be the role model? Already I rarely dress up, wear no makeup, air dry my hair, use no accessories, I am always in flats, but my daughter will still be influenced through classmates, advertisements, doll play, etc. We deprive our girl of a lot of the ‘girly’ stuff for now because it (unfortunately) will come. Nail polish already has, last month, from school friends.I am concerned that just because our son is a boy that we don’t have to be sensitive to certain things. My husband always says that because he is big, strong, athletic and coordinated that he will be able to overcome a lot of social concerns through sports. But really? Do we overlook certain issues with boys because of stereotypes, too?”

EcoZiva of Brazil writes: “Many of my son’s friends are extremely picky eaters and very skinny. They are all about the same size, aged 8-9, but my son (who is average in weight, while we can literally see his friends’ ribs) is about 10 kg (22 lbs) heavier than them. Once I made a comment at home on how skinny one of them was (how I regret that!). I don’t know if it had to do with that or with other things he has heard, but now every once in a while he will comment on how he is “fat” (he is not at all!!) and how he doesn’t want to surpass so many kilos. He hasn’t gone as far as try to diet or anything like that, but he does like to weigh himself and will say a “hurray” if his weight hasn’t changed. It really bothers me.

I have a two year old girl and I also worry, although, I don’t wear makeup, I rarely dress up, etc. Even being only two she always wants to wear the clothes with the characters on them (even though I limit her cartoon time and I try to buy neutral clothes – both are more my husband’s thing). The women in the family keep telling me “playfully” how sorry they are for her because she has no one to dress her up and how lucky she is to have them to buy the fancy clothes, dress her decently, etc. For now I am avoiding spending too much time with certain relatives, but I foresee future conflict when they start pushing makeup, etc.,

I do believe small children should be protected from the media as much as possible! I see a great difference in behavior when the kids are seeing too many cartoons, etc., and when they are doing other stuff.”

Karyn Van Der Zwet of New Zealand writes: “Our eldest boy has issues around his weight. He is a very fit athletic 11 year-old with a boyish round tum – in a year or two he will be gangly and thin. We have two older relatives who are obsessed with people’s weights and are often outspoken about the waist size of those around them. We counteract it all by making sure he is emotionally connected (eye-contact, touch and play-fighting etc) to us. Also most nights I do the routine speech of “You are kind, you are smart, you are important. I love you very much and I am proud to be your mother.” With locked in eye-contact to make sure he has felt the message properly. The plan is to make him feel strong in his core so the external messages don’t click in. Yikes. Big stuff”

Mamma Simona of South Africa writes: “I am a mother to a 20yr old son and 17yr old daughter.:) Do not try to keep the media away from your kids, rather use it to talk about things openly. If your child really IS overweight, DON’T say they aren’t! Being HONEST with your kids is extremely important. Remember that kids are NOT stupid and (very often) they already know the answer to the question they’re asking you … they’re actually testing you to see if they can trust you!! As long as you, as their mother, continue to give them unconditional love. Be their “soft place to fall” when others are mean to them, they’ll turn out fine!”

Travel Lady with Baby of Quebec, Canada writes: “What a great question! I don’t have a girl, but I do worry about some of the pressure boys face. I am stunned that boys at such young ages focus on their weight.

I wonder if it is a cultural thing. We live in Hockey land, the pressure for our boys to become the next Gretzky starts at 5, and we are already contemplating putting our son in a private school, so that he doesn’t have the pressure of hockey.”


What about you… How do you think our children can be raised into self assured young men and women?  

And do you have a question you would like to pose to our WMB writers?  If so, email us at to see what they have to say.

This Saturday Sidebar has been compiled and edited by Purnima, from India!   

– World Moms Blog

Photo credit to SF Home Guides.  

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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