Is there anything that matters more to little girl than what her mother thinks of her? Maybe what her mother says to her.
A mother is a little girl’s whole world so when she says something negative, the girl takes it to heart (and often keeps it in her psyche for years to come). As teens whose feelings are magnified times a thousand, one demoralizing comment can make her see herself in a terrible light which often leads to low self esteem.
Even as adults, we don’t want to hear our mothers questioning our judgements in a condescending way. Yes, we do want their advice, but not their harsh criticism.
Luckily, it seems like many of us have surpassed the old fashioned way of raising girls, even though that is exactly how many of us were raised. Yet, there are many moms who still let some things slip without even realizing the damage they are doing.
With that in mind, here are 10 things a mother should never say to her daughter:
A mom might be a feminine flower but if your little girl is a tomboy, let her embrace who she is. If a mother is obsessed with frilly dresses and shoes, she should wear them, not her unwilling daughter.
“You’re not pretty.”
To quote Aibileen Clark from The Help, “Not a good road if mama don’t think child is pretty.” It isn’t so much that a mother will come out and tell her child she’s ugly, but the little digs here and there let a kid know, and a child always knows when her mother thinks she is not pretty enough.
“Don’t be rude.”
Sometimes life calls for being rude. Many times it calls for standing up for oneself. The old fashioned (and disgusting) notion that girls need to be nice all the time creates people-pleasers… who please everyone and hate themselves.
“You will never be able to do that.”
Whether it’s a become a scientist, win a contest, take that calculus course or become the next president, anytime you tell a girl she can’t do something, it creates a negative thought pattern in her brain. Pretty soon she may internalize that she really can’t do many things and then of course, once she believes that, she will stop trying.
“Are you really going to eat that?”
Or “that will go straight to your thighs.” Talk about a whole different kind of body shaming! A mother’s words to a tender preteen or adolescent can trigger a lifetime of eating disorders. Tying self worth to size or looks is the best guarantee to a life lacking in self esteem.
“You are running out of time to have kids”
Words hurt even when you’re an adult. Remember the part again in The Help, when Emma Stone’s character’s mother, Charlotte Phelan told her daughter, “Your eggs are dying. Would it kill you to go on a date? ” If you do then you probably also remember how terrible she made her very smart daughter feel just because she didn’t have a man in her life. The pressure to have kids when you want them and can’t have them is nothing short of huge. Any kind of negative comment from a mother is damaging. And let’s not even go there about how plain horrifying is it to make a woman’s life all about landing a man.
“Don’t get dirty.”
Girls should experience everything that boys can. One of my absolute favorite memories as a child was playing with the mud in my yard. Give me a spoon and I could dig for hours. You deny a girl a lot when you expect her to stay clean all the time. Kids were meant to get dirty- boys and girls!
“What will all the other girls think?”
So a girl doesn’t want to go to a sleepover, join girl scouts, or dress the way her friends do. Mothers should never have a girl question any decision by asking what her friends would think. Not unless they want the girl to make every decision based on what others think rather than themselves.
“Put on some lipstick before you go.”
Which snidely means that how you look sans makeup is not good enough. More moms need to encourage girls that they don’t need to hide their faces under a mountain of cosmetics.
Or “Don’t look so angry/sad/bored.” Every time you tell a girl to mask her own feelings for the sake of looking good for the neighbors, friends, or family, you are telling a girl to hide how she really feels, which will only make her feel much, much worse. If a girl is angry, let her be angry!
Has your mother ever uttered something that devastated you as a child but that she thought was harmless? What is missing from this list? Share your stories with us in the comments.