A few weeks ago I walked into a children’s clothing shop to buy a pretty dress for a friend who gave birth to a baby girl. I didn’t have much time, because it was during my lunch break, but I marveled at how I spent 20 minutes walking back and forth between three different outfits. Yes, baby girls have outfits… . You must buy the hat , the shoes, or the hair band that comes along with the dress, or the top , or even the skirt! Funnily enough, it is always a serious mission to find a pretty dress for any lady, whether she’s still a breastfeeding baby, or a CEO of a successful tech company. It's a REAL mission!
I have never met this baby girl, I haven’t even seen her, I will most likely not even spend that much time with her. However, I am taking the time to pick something special for her, because I know from the loving way her mother and father announced her arrival that she’s important.
I like how we decorate little girls, the puffy dresses, the cute pink shoes, those adorable hats or hair bands. We dress little girls up from the day they are born and we tell them how beautiful they are even before they understand what the word beautiful means. It’s not so much in the things that we buy and decorate them with, but more so the efforts we take to make them feel special. When my twin nieces were born, every chance my mother got she bought dresses/outfits for them, one included a pink glitter ensemble. She was so excited to do this for them. Of course, as toddlers, within two weeks they had grown out of them, but that, like I mentioned earlier, is besides the point.
You probably don’t remember it, but if you grew up in a loving home, important moments took place between you and your loved ones. They welcomed you into the world with such gusto! They prepared for your birth day, your jajja (grandfather)chose a special name for you. Your grandmother told your mother some sacred life lessons on the differences of parenting a girl. And your father was nervous about whether he would be a good male role model for you, but the moment he held you in his arms, he realized you didn’t care. He realized you were just delighted he was there.
When you were a baby they smiled and cooed in your face telling you how gorgeous you are. They did this before you even knew how to seek out people’s approval. They planted that cliche (but crucial) seed in you that told you ‘You are worthy”. When you put your puffy sleeved bright orange dress on , and your father called you 'Cinderella', you span around in glee! He made your day.
During that time compliments came freely. You learnt that you are beautiful just for being you. You did not even take that much time looking at yourself in the mirror. In those moments when they told you how smart you are, how kind you are, and how brave you are they were building you up to be the best you. How much time do you spend looking at yourself in the mirror now?
There are many girls who will not have those moments. No one will rejoice on the day they are born. No one will look at them lovingly when they smile. No one will decorate them. In fact people will use them as a punching bag for all their frustrations with life. Some of these girls will learn to look after everyone else, yet no one will look after them. They will learn to beg for approval. They will learn to exchange parts of themselves to get compliments. They will under value their worth. Sadly they will treat other girls the same way, because that is what they have learnt about being a woman.
We should never underestimate the importance of unconditional love in the first few years of a child’s life. It’s vital for parents, grandparents, aunts , uncles to do their part in building children’s confidence in those younger years. Because when she gets older…
- All the women on TV and Social Media will look nothing like her and comparison is part of human nature. She will start to notice the parts of her body that are not ‘perfect'
- People will dislike her just because she doesn’t seek their approval, yet they worked so hard to seek everybody else's.
- People will tell her who she can and can’t be, simply because she is woman.
- People will gladly point out her flaws, looking for opportunities to chip at her self-esteem.
- People will ignore her opinion, because she is supposed to be a meek, humble and shy.
- Some men will do all sorts of things to mess with her self- esteem, and sometimes she’ll believe them when they tell her it’s her fault.
So please don’t forget to decorate her
Plant that seed
Plant that indestructible seed of worthiness in her
Tell her how wonderful she is before she can even pronounce the word
Tell her how wonderful she is in as many languages as you can
Then teach her how to spell the word in all those languages before she reaches primary school
Teach her how to play with Barbie, but also teach her how to build robots
And when she tells you that someone said she can’t play with robots because she’s a girl, tell her she is LIMITLESS
Tell her that when she gets older the world will tell her differently, but no matter what happens she must look deep inside herself and remember what you planted.
Tell her that what you have planted and watered needs to be kept alive even when life is hard
Show her with your own life how to keep that seed growing and spreading into all the good that God wants her to become.