Thursday, August 24, 2006

Am I ruining her? She wants to shave her legs so badly. Two months ago we gave her the option of shaving her legs or buying a two piece swimsuit. Neither of these seem like horrible things, but when you have a daughter that is far to mature for her age, they seem like scary territory. She chose the two piece and our world was peaceful for a short time. Today the arguments began again. Her legs are too hairy. People will make fun of her. She's a bundle of emotions over many things that are going on right now and this one argument is where she chooses to unload all of her ammunition. I calmly reminded her of the decision she made and of her promise not to bring this up again until I thought it was time for her to finally shave her legs. (Which in my opinion, just in case your are wondering, should closely match the time of her first period.) She got very angry. So angry she ripped the pages relating to shaving legs out of the "Your Body" book I bought her. When I talked to her about what she had done she let everything go. She's worried about her mom who is sick and at the ER right now. She thinks that boys will never like her. Her ears are too big. Her nose is too red. Her face has to much acne. Her hair is too short. The list goes on and on. From her young perspective, changing one or all of these things will make her beautiful and life better. From my perspective, none of these things are the true culprit. In reality, she doesn't love herself. She has many reasons to believe that she isn't good enough. Life has not been very kind to her. She has a biological father out there somewhere that never gave a damn. Her mother chose drugs and a girlfriend over her after allowing her to be abused and neglected.
David and I love her more than we imagined possible. When she was gone for a week, we missed her so much we were both excited to pick her up from the airport. We tell her every day how smart, pretty, special, talented, wonderful she is. Sometimes I wonder if any of it is really getting through. I wonder if what she believes about herself is too strong for our words and actions to break through. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I have it all backwards. Maybe in trying to teach her that she is beautiful just the way she is I'm doing more damage than good. Maybe giving her the ability to shave her legs and therefore feel more comfortable with herself will give her more confidence and make her feel better about herself, or will it lead to wanting to change whatever else makes her feel like she isn't good enough?


aola said...

I've been sitting here thinking about this... you have to learn to choose your battles carefully. If you think it is worth fighting over, stand your ground.
The hard thing now is that is has become such an issue.
I can see that she will be starting back to school soon and if shaving her legs makes that easier well...
But, on the other hand can you afford to cave on this one, knowing it will be something else next week.
Erin, of all kids, needs stability in her life and you are IT.

You are a great Mom. I know you will do the right thing.... whatever that may be and only you know what is best for Erin.

Sandra said...

Exactly my problem. It's not the shaving that bothers me. I'm fairly certain that once she has to shave she will not like it and will want to stop soon after. My worries are about all the things that come after this. By not shaving her legs am I condeming her to being a social outcast? If I let her shave them am I teaching her to give in to whatever her peers say? I'm not sure there is a right or wrong here. I could see either answer going either way. Maybe I will let her shave one leg and we'll all be happy. :)
There is also the issue of the choice and commitment she made. This parenting thing can be a bitch! Sometimes I feel like I'm just trying to chose whatever causes the least amount of damage.

thanks for the support A! Sometimes, I feel like I'm doing the most awful job a mother has ever done.