What is the parent of a child with acne to do? Probably not at all what you think.
I was recently doing a live Q&A about healing acne and a woman asked me this question. “My daughter is starting to get acne and I’m worried it’s going to get worse. What can I do?” I asked this mother how her daughter felt about her skin. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I haven’t asked her.”
I see this quite often. Mothers (and sometimes fathers) who have struggled with acne see that their teenager starts breaking out, and they worry for them. It comes from a place of concern, of course. The parent had a hard time dealing with acne, and they don’t want their child to have to deal with the same struggle.
But often well meaning parents unintentionally make things worse. This was true of my own wonderful mother.
My mom struggled with acne from the time she was a teenager, and throughout most of her life. It was huge point of insecurity for her. When I started getting pimples around the age of 13, I remember my mother looking at me with a great deal of disappointment and saying, “I was hoping you wouldn’t get my skin.”
This was a message that was repeated throughout my teens. “I’m so sorry you got my skin,” she would often say. This was confusing and difficult for me. As a young girl, I of course looked up to and adored my mother. I wanted to be like her. I liked her. I loved her. I thought she was amazing, and beautiful. But she constantly reminded me that I was wrong. She was flawed. She could prove it. Just look at her bad skin. And now I had this flaw too. What a pity.
My well meaning mother formed my opinion about my skin before I had the chance to form my own. She didn’t look at me and see my skin, she saw her own struggle and insecurity, and it began to shape mine. She unintentionally taught me to feel shame about my skin, and disappointment with myself.
Her obsession with acne became mine. She would say things at times when I was otherwise feeling good about myself. Out of nowhere I would catch her staring at my skin, then say, “we should take you to a dermatologist.” She would remind me that there is this thing about me that isn’t right, that needs to be fixed.
Mamas – if you are worried for your child with acne, the single most important thing you can do is help them understand that having acne is not the end of the world. It may be a nuisance, but don’t let them believe that it matters all that much. The best thing you can do to help them deal with their acne, is to help them understand the innate value that they hold. What good human beings they are.
Yes, it may still be difficult for them. They will get plenty of messages from the outside world that it’s better to have clear skin. You can’t do anything about that. That’s why it’s so important that they learn the truth at home. All you can do is arm them with confidence and security.
Especially your daughters. There is so much pressure for young women to be pretty. They are given the message from all angles that a certain type of beauty is the best quality that they could hope to have. Don’t accidentally reinforce that damaging message by obsessing over their skin.
To send them the right message, you have to believe it yourself. If you tell your child that acne isn’t important, but still think it is, they’ll notice. If you’ve struggled with the insecurity of acne, it’s time for you to heal. You must find your innate sense of self worth. Tune into your own value. Be a beacon of self love and confidence that teaches your child by example. They will pick up the messages of how to think about themselves from you.
If this has been a long time struggle for you, I would like to help. I have created the Feel Better, Heal Better program to help you move past feelings of shame and insecurity. It may be just what you, and your teenager need. Click here to get more info.
Now, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree that teaching your child self confidence is the best thing you can do for their acne? I love hearing from you. Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, and as always…