Boy, this is tough. I have a confession. Whew. Ok, here goes. I have been insecure about the way I look since forever. You aren’t surprised are you? Most women share those feelings. As author Jennifer Dukes Lee put it, “We tell ourselves that we’re not enough – or we let our bathroom scales tell us that we’re too much.” If this was the mindset of only a few, the diet and beauty industries wouldn’t be generating between $50 and $60 billion dollars a year! Each!
I could tell you stories about what I believe caused the genesis of my flimsy self-esteem, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole. What’s important to me now is helping my daughter avoid the pitfalls of misplaced self worth. So I jumped at the chance (actually sat in my favorite chair with a cup of tea) to read and review Confident Moms, Confident Daughters: Helping Your Daughter Live Free from Insecurity and Love How She Looks by Maria Furlough.
In the first chapter, the author despells any notion that becoming confident is important simply for its own sake. As believers in Christ, anything good in us comes from God and God alone. Furlough tells us that “security is in us. It always has been. When we think insecure thoughts or act on our lack of self-confidence, we make the decision to hand our security away.” And “confidence in who we are as God’s beautiful creations protects us from harming ourselves and others.” I personally made many unhealthy decisions and gave myself over to risky behaviors and relationships in the quest to feel attractive.
The author’s premise is that in order to instill confidence in our daughters, we moms have to be secure in how we look. And although I agree with this, Furlough’s methods are a little too hokey and simplistic for me. She advises making lists of things we love about ourselves and having mirror pep talks telling ourselves that we are beautiful. Although Psalm 139 is a great place to remind ourselves of our worth in our Heavenly Father’s eyes, saying some of those things into a mirror feels a little insincere to me. And so does a fake it ’til you believe it strategy.
The book includes an interview with a pediatrician who advises us to eat “5-2-1-0”. Five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, two hours max of screen time, one hour of active time and the zero stands for limiting things such as sugary drinks. This is fabulous advice, but looks like zero teenagers I actually know.
Furlough states that we as moms are the confidence standards in our home. I believe this is absolutely true up until the teenage years. By that point (according to an expert source that I can’t for the life of me remember but promise I read) parents are in the fourth place of influence for their children. We lag behind friends, the culture at large, and other authority figures such as teachers and youth ministers. So while I agree that the stuff we continue to carry around, we pass down to our girls, there are also many other balls in play.
Even if we could end our own obsession with physical beauty, society’s obsession rages on. And that voice is strong for my fourteen year old. What this book gets so right, though, is that true beauty comes from within. We wear ourselves out when we focus primarily on the physical, because there will always be someone prettier. “No matter what we do, say, eat, crunch, or tuck we will never become beautiful enough to fix our confidence problem…Our only hope is healing from the inside out.”
We, unfortunately, have an enemy that whispers constantly in our ears that we aren’t good enough. Our daughters hear it and we hear it. We can only counteract the negative with God’s truth. He never intended us all to have the same size noses or the same color complexions or the same size jeans (genes). He poured His creativity all over us.
After reading this book and giving it plenty of thought, I think we moms of girls have three action items here. First, to pray to the God of miracles for supernatural confidence. Second, to use our words and actions to help our kids appreciative the unique and beautiful ways God made them. And three, pray some more and ask God to cover over the many mistakes we will make with our words and actions.
The end of each chapter of this book lists “Confident Daughter Discussion Questions”. My daughter and I have been working our way through them at the table after dinner each night. We are having the best, most valuable discussions! (See the second action point above.) I would pay the cover price many times over for these exchanges with my girl.
Your turn. Do you have any advice for nurturing more confidence in yourself or those under your influence? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.
Revell Books generously provided me with a copy of this book for the purposes of review. All thoughts and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are my own.
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