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Poor Little Chicken

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

Poor chickens. They’re still trapped in their coop, this perfect Indian summer morning, when they could be pecking up the overripe fallen blackberries. God only knows when they’ll get out now. I have told my daughter I will wait for her, and she wants to get dressed first. (Sigh.) For either of the boys that would mean simply grabbing a t-shirt and a pair of skinny jeans, but for my daughter nothing is simple about getting dressed.

She will, inevitably, end up in the same outfit as the boys: T-shirt, skinny jeans, sneakers.  But the process will involve many iterations of the single phrase: “You don’t get it, mom.”  The ripped jeans are the most comfortable but they catch your foot on the way down.  The clean ones are too stiff from the line, the dirty ones are…well, something is wrong with them, something I “don’t get.”  The socks are too small, too big, too lumpy, too pink.  None of the t-shirts look right.  And sometimes the clothes get on despite all the problems, and sometimes there’s a six-year-old girl crumpled on the floor by the rejected clothes, crying.  “Why am I like this, mom?”  My poor little chicken.

 And sometimes before it gets bad, I have to walk away, because I have lost my patience for this endless dressing, undressing, searching for the one item of clothing that will finally make her feel good, right, in her clothes.  It kills me, watching this bold, strong, happy naked child reduced to such anxiety by the need to clothe herself. 

Just wear the damn soft comfy yoga pants, I telepathically command.  You are SIX!  Clothes shouldn’t matter.  “How about these?” I gently offer through a slightly stiff jaw.

 “The other girls will laugh at me if I wear those.”  Really?? Because I know those girls, and honestly, they could care less.  More likely, they would tell you how cute they were.  But in the end, my little chicken always plays it safe, finds a pair of jeans and t-shirt she can tolerate, and puts on the same exact sneakers her best friend wears, even though they are too tight and she has another pair that fits better.

 Of course, I try to model playful enjoyment of my own clothes, feeling good about how I look (even when I’m pretending), and when it takes me a few tries to get to the right outfit, saying it’s about how I feel in the clothes, not what other people will think.  I make a point of telling her how wild and free she looks to me, how her body can do so many amazing things, how she looks graceful and strong in her ballet skirt.  And then, the next day, we are crying about the clothes again.  Somehow, all those women’s studies classes didn’t inoculate me against this big mothering fail.

 Nevertheless, I’m holding on to the hope that I’m doing something right.  When we do finally get down to the chicken coop to release the prisoners into the sunny day full of berry bushes, we stay to watch the chickens enjoy their belated freedom.  And of course, the rooster wants to show off a bit, strut and then enjoy his privileges with a hen or two.  Watching an embattled, squawking hen, my daughter crosses her arms and says firmly, “No one is EVER going to make ME do sex.”  Yes! my inner feminist mama hen cheers.  Hold that thought, little happy, strong, naked chicken, and your feathers will grow in just fine.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She'll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she's hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it's pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate's love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they'll respect their own and others'.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children's self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she's trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama's Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, "I'm not beautiful." And while it's hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child's lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today's society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can't give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don't You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma's baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter's clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she's in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry's choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she's perfect just the way she is.

Tags: Carnival of Natural Parenting, chickens, clothes, self-image

Reader Comments

5 comments

I still feel like that sometimes :) It convinces me more than ever that we should all find 3 or 4 outfits that make us feel fabulous, then buy replicas of them ;)

— Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

your chicken

I love the nickname. I call mine chicken nugget. :)
I love your patience and respect that at times you admit you need to just step away for a minute. Bless your heart! Thank you for sharing this story.

Just as an aside, there's this awesome company called "soft" that has stuff that feels like it's already broken in, for kids that feel like some things just don't "feel" right.

— Michelle Bowman

Since having babies, I feel like that too more and more! My oldest is 5 and is just starting to be more particular about her clothes. I was hoping her "wear anything" phase would last forever!

— Casey- Sesame Seed Designs

I am so inspired by your positivity! I feel like I can easily be discouraged when my daughters struggle with things that I feel we have tried to counter.

— Marisa

You write so beautifully. Thanks for participating once again!

What struck me is how often we do, as women, dress for the hens, not the roosters. We don't want to be pecked to death for choosing the wrong feathers. (Enough metaphor? heh heh) It's funny that your daughter already senses that, even at her age.

I like your ideas of modeling feeling comfortable in our clothes and having fun with them. My boys don't care at this age (and perhaps ever) about looking just right, but my 5-year-old definitely does love having fun with what he wears and feeling comfortable. I should encourage that.

— Lauren @ Hobo Mama

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