You suck!

(and other things you don’t realise you’re telling your child.)


“You suck!”

Are you aware that you tell your kids this all the time? I did once. I would tell them, “You’re fat, unattractive, unloveable. You are not good enough. I wish you looked like that prettier person over there.”

Shocked? I’ll bet that you do the same. Every day. And you don’t even know it.

Let me explain.

That child of yours looks at you like you’re a superhero, right? To her, you’re the most beautiful, cleverest, strongest person in the whole wide world. EVER. She wants to be just like you because, to her, you are everything.  From the time she was little, she mimicked you. She wore bejeweled necklaces and tottered around in your high heels. She painted your lipstick all over her face and looked at herself in the mirror, admiring just how like you she was. She speaks like you, she walks like you. And, as she grows up, she’ll look to you for advice. YOU ARE HER EVERYTHING.

She watches you even when you think she isn’t – especially when you think she isn’t.

She sees you looking in the mirror, grimacing and muttering about your cellulite. She hears you discussing how fat you think you are and how disgusting you think you look in your jeans. She watches you as you eat a piece of chocolate and then admonish yourself for being naughty. She is hyper-aware of the ugly names you call yourself when you make a mistake.

Here’s the thing. She thinks you’re perfect and she aspires to be just like you. If you call yourself – her hero – fat, stupid, ugly and worthless, you’re telling her that even if she manages to reach the pinnacle of perfection that you, in her eyes, are, you will think these things about her. She will learn from you that she will never be good enough. Because you don’t think you are good enough.

I used to be that person – the one who would say horrendous things to myself that I would never say to my worst enemy. Things that I would never let someone say to anyone I love. But somehow, it was okay to say these things to myself. Until, one day, when I was standing in front of the mirror, looking hatefully at myself and my little girl happened to walk in. She saw me looking at myself and said “Mum, why do you look so cross?” She gazed at me like I was an angel. Her eyes were filled with absolute love and admiration. She looked at me like I was the most exquisite person she had ever seen. A light bulb switched on in my head. Why not at least try to start seeing myself the way she sees me? Why not look in the mirror and see myself through kinder eyes.

Things changed after that day. Of course I still see my (multitude of) flaws. Oh, boy, do I see them! But I try my best to eat well, exercise and dress well. I even make it out of the house most days not covered in Vegemite. The difference is that when I look in the mirror, I see someone who has had three kids, who is a devoted mum and wife, who works really hard, who has her own unique talents. I see kind eyes. I see a generous heart. And when my little girl walks in and catches me eyeing out my saggy spectacular bum, I look at her, smile and say “Don’t I look lovely today?” And, do you know what? She does a cheerful twirl in front of the mirror, smiles a gappy grin and says, “Yes! And I look beautiful, too!”

They don’t always listen to what we say, but they absolutely learn from what we do.

Do you want your child to love herself? Don’t tell her she’s worth it. Tell her you are. 


"You Suck!" was selected as Voice of the Year at BlogHer in 2013.

“You Suck!” was selected as Voice of the Year at BlogHer in 2013.




If you liked this post, please share it with your friends using the icons below, and I’ll love you intensely if you comment, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance). You can also join the fun on FacebookPinterest and Twitter

You can also follow my blog with Bloglovin.


  1. Gill Katz says

    It never dawned on me til I read this – how true it is… Thanks Mishy. I am still learning from you :)

  2. says

    Wow…talk about giving me a thought for the day!!!
    Your comment, ‘Why not look in the mirror and see myself through kinder eyes.’, sort of sums everything up.
    Now, maybe I don’t spend as much time looking at myself in the mirror as other people, but your message is one that can be used for everything you do as a parent. A brilliantly written piece and a point i Shall no doubt be mulling over during the course of the day!!!

  3. says

    I remember us chatting about this some time back Mishi, and while I’m wont to prance down the hallway pumping my fist and singing, “I’m so cool, I’m so cool” when things are going well, I was damned mean to myself the other day. I am lucky enough to have a very switched-on 16-year-old daughter, who promptly chastised me and said she found my comments offensive, particularly as she thinks I’m beautiful and what I was saying wasn’t true at all. So there, sternly put in my place by my baby and gently reminded by you my friend.

  4. Adrienne says

    Beautifully written as usual! Great advice – not just for girls – it amazes me how much my son takes in about my constant food guilt and loathing I have for my body. Boys also need to learn to love the bodies we have so that they can go on to love themselves and the woman they might love in the future.

    • says

      I hope you’ll start being kinder to yourself, Adrienne. You are his Mom and besides everything else about you that’s amazing THAT is enough to make you look in the mirror with love.

  5. says

    Beautifully written and so very true. I know it’s cliche, but actions do speak so much louder than words. Your piece makes me realize that perhaps our sons are getting just as big of a disservice when we are so critical of ourselves. After all, if we are never satisfied with what we see in the mirror, imagine what that does to their version of what they should look for in a woman. Talk about instilling unrealistic expectations!

    This is a great post and I am so glad I stopped by! I’m looking forward to reading more :-)

    • says

      You know, I wish I had written this a little more inclusively – it DOES apply equally to our sons. We HAVE to show them, by our actions, how to love themselves.

      Thanks for following me, Wendy :)

  6. Becky says

    I adored and loved this – thank you so much for sharing. I feel like I know how to better now raise a woman, and also have found a new “Mommy Blog” to read!

  7. Natalie says

    Oh My Gosh Michelle, You have such a way with words and thoughts… I’m sitting here trying not to cry… This is getting printed and put up to remind me to look after myself better for my baby’s sake.

  8. says

    This is soooo true.
    I laughed at myself and my son asked why I was laughing so I told him that sometimes I’m a “chop”.
    He said he wishes I wouldn’t put myself down because I’m not.
    Thanks Mich for this! :)

  9. says

    Thank you for this, Michelle. It is such an important topic. Once my 7 year-old daughter heard me telling my husband “I just hate myself!” (during a particularly tough time of my life–see “The Psychologist, the Mom, and Me Granted, I was under extreme life stress, but I had no idea she was standing outside the door and heard. The next day I heard her say the same thing about herself when she’d made a mistake. We had a long heart-to-heart as I explained what had prompted me to say what I had said about myself and it helped her understand how to handle her feelings about herself a little better too. It really opened my eyes to the power that our words about ourselves have on our children. But, if we take the opportunity we can teach our children as we go that no matter how they feel about themselves from time to time, they are important, beautiful, and most importantly, loved:).

    • says

      Christi – I don’t even know where to begin. Your story knocked the breath right out of me. I admire the grace and courage with which you’ve embraced your life changes. I will be following your blog and learning from you. Thank you for your comment – it’s quite something coming from someone with your background. Take care!

  10. Michelle says

    Wow what a beautiful post. Certainly got me thinking about how my self-directed negativity might be affecting my two boys. So happy to have discovered your blog. :)

  11. says

    I love this post! So beautifully written and it’s so true that most of us do this. I do it all the time. My husband even talks about how “fat” he is and my son asked me today, “Mom, why does daddy always say he’s fat?” They ARE listening!

  12. says

    Don’t make me cry!!! I had a whole ‘Come to Jesus’ day yesterday. I cried all day. And realized how much I don’t like myself. Shocking, I know. But I’m working on accepting the 40 year old me. The me that I can be, and yes, for my daughter especially!!! I’m working on my blog post in my head still, I’ll let you know when I get it done. Thank you for this.

    • says

      I know that bitch in your head, Frugie. I know her intimately.

      She is telling you right now that the person who writes your amazing posts and creates your hilarious videos is a fraud. she is, isn’t she? She is telling you that you’re letting people down, she’s telling you that you’re not as good as we all think you are and sooner or later we will all see it. She’s telling you that you are failing your kids. She’s telling you that you should be ashamed of your body.

      I’d bet a lot that I’m right. I’d bet I’m eerily accurate.

      Here’s the thing – she doesn’t control you. You control her. Shut the bitch up! Listen to the people who love you, see yourself through their eyes.


  13. says

    I’m late to the party, but I’m here to say congrats on the VOTY honor! I can see why it was selected. :)

    It’s so much better to look at the world or ourselves through a child’s eyes.

  14. says

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Finding the
    time and actual effort to create a great article… but what can I say… I
    put things off a whole lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

    • says

      Thank you, Leslie. From you, that’s praise of the highest order. I have adored your blog for the longest time and was hoping I would get to meet you at BlogHer – you were one of the writers that inspired me to start this blogging journey in the first place. I’m so glad you popped by!


  1. […] Last week, when I dropped my children off at school, one of the mothers walked up to me and put a rotten egg in my pocket. Just like that. I didn’t like the way it smelled, but I quickly zipped up my pocket and kept it with me all day, anyway. I tried to ignore the stench that followed me around and I tried to pretend that I wasn’t aware that people were wrinkling their noses as I walked by. I could only imagine what they must have been thinking about me. […]

  2. […] You suck! Rate this:Sharing is caring. you know:TwitterEmailPinterestFacebookLinkedInRedditStumbleUponDiggTumblrPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Filed under Gratitude, Life, Motherhood, Self-esteem and tagged dirty weekend, fill up your jug, fulfilled, GI Joe, good clean fun, happy mommy, muddy, obstacle course, Tri-events, Western Mudd Rush | Leave a comment […]

  3. […] You suck! Rate this:Sharing is caring. you know:TwitterEmailPinterestFacebookLinkedInRedditStumbleUponDiggTumblrPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Filed under Cancer, Family, Gratitude, Life and tagged Blood donation, blood plasma, Cancer, charitable giving, charity, donate blood, family, generosity, grandfather, make me smile, unconditional love | Leave a comment […]

  4. […] You suck! Rate this:Sharing is caring. you know:TwitterEmailPinterestFacebookLinkedInRedditStumbleUponDiggTumblrPrintLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this. Filed under Family, Gratitude, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, sibling rivalry and tagged Admit you're wrong, bad touch, building trust, Bully, good touch, great parenting tool, I don't force my kids to hug, I hate Dora, labelling bad behavior, love is not enough, motivating kids, my children are my greatest teachers, my kids do chores, negative labels, pigeon-hole, postaday2012, postaweek2012, respect, respect your children, self-respect, the greatest gift you can give your child, unloading the dishwasher, when to give your child independence | Leave a comment […]

  5. […] That one sentence halted my world, Matrix like. In the microseconds that followed, I was forced to swallow the bitter pill that was her first yearning to be something other than herself. That one sentence had the potential to become the first brick in the foundation of the hateful self-doubt jail that so many of us women have built and locked ourselves in. That one sentence needed to be faced, head on. […]

Leave a Reply