Self-confident is not how I would describe myself. It was, at one point—like when I showed up to my first day of Grade 6 wearing a dress, princess tiara and yellow boots. As children we are naturally confident, ready to take on the world, but we lose some of that spark, spunk and sass as we get older.

As I grew, I became more and more aware that I did not like what I saw in the mirror and put my worth in a number on the scale. It became an obsession, discovering all sorts of ways to make that number go down—watching what I ate, not eating at all. Although I had moments of feeling good, I always returned to feeling “never enough,” which led to some extremely unhealthy habits that followed me well into adulthood.

Then pregnancy and motherhood came around and made everything better, and worse, in one fell swoop. My body became a powerhouse that could grow and birth and feed a tiny human. I was grateful for its amazing, God-designed ability. But my body was also reeling from the aftermath of weeks of bed rest and an obnoxious amount of fluid retention.

The miracle of life, right?

I tried my best to handle all the changes, including my changed body, but, honestly, it was hard. Women’s bodies are often considered an acceptable talking point for those around us—especially if we have grown a little life inside of us. The way we look, how big our baby bellies are, how well we are “put together” or how quickly we bounce back and preach on a Sunday, are all scales that others can suddenly use to judge us. Somehow, it’s OK to sit across a table from a new mom trying to hold everything together and tell her that her uniform blouse is too tight, like it’s friendly advice. 

I have often praised God for his ultimate wisdom in making me a “boy mom,” because how on earth would I raise a little girl when I struggle with all these issues? For a while I thought I was home free. Just keep dealing with your own body image, Bhreagh. You don’t really have to talk about it with your boys.

But then one day as we were walking through a mall, an advertisement outside a lingerie store made my two little boys giggle, and I realized that not talking to them about body image was not responsible parenting. It’s something I must deal with to raise boys who know how to respect their own bodies, but also the bodies of girls and women. So, here’s what I know so far:

  1. Be comfortable in your own body. Do the hard work of getting comfortable talking about things that make you uncomfortable.

  2. Become the authority on all things related to body image and sex. Teach them about their bodies before anyone else. If you get ahead of the curve, then you become the authority and main teacher in their lives. Don’t wait—teach them early!

  3. It’s OK for them to giggle and ask questions. Never shame them or make them feel like bodies are gross or wrong. Create a safe space for your kids to ask questions and answer their questions truthfully (using correct names for body parts). 

  4. Embrace masculinity and femininity (and I don’t mean the stereotypes). God designed men and women with unique biology and psychology to love, serve and respect each other while working together. Help them embrace who and how God made them and see it as good.

I’m raising my boys with their future wives in mind. I’m raising my boys to become men who are confident yet sensitive to the pressures on women. I’m raising my boys to become men who treat women with so much sacrificial love and honour that they never have to question their worth or value in a mirror or scale. I’m raising my boys to become godly men who can walk past a lingerie sign and understand that what the world sells is not real. 

I am raising my boys to be the type of people who young Bhreagh needed—people who remind others every day that they are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Captain Bhreagh Rowe is the community ministries officer, St. Albert Church and Community Centre, Alta.

Photo: Daisy Daisy/

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