I wrote this in response to the article found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html and highly suggest you read it first.
“Sophie, you are Mommy’s beautiful girl”. I make this statement almost daily to my 3 year old daughter and she giggles and loves it. However, recently I have read several articles in regards to how I am actually harming my daughter by speaking to her in this manner and I really have to wonder.
Now, as with any topic, I tend to dwell on it for awhile, thinking of scenario after senario. Especially when it comes to parenting. I am constantly questioning if I am “screwing my kids up” and have to laugh at myself knowing that pretty much every parent wonders that at some point in time.
If I’m going to be honest, we live in a world where looks DO matter and to believe otherwise is naive. Throughout history, looks have always played a role in society – what has changed is the definition of WHAT look is popular at that time. Unfortunately we have entered a time when that has become increasingly disturbing and I agree that something needs to change. However, I don’t think that completely avoiding the subject of looks is the answer.
I become confused – we are supposed to instead point out their other qualities… such as intelligence. What happens if later our child is diagnosed with a learning disabiliy or simply doesn’t turn out to be in the top percentage of his/her class? Have I created a problem by telling them in their youth that they were smart? It sounds to me like they are doomed whatever I do!
As with most things, finding a good balance my belief. With my son, this is already becoming a huge part of my daily praise. I tell him he is smart, his pictures are creative, he’s excellent at reading, etc. I try not to over-praise but when I see or hear something I love, I’m going to let him know. I also tell him often how handsome he is. On occasion I have even used words such as beautiful and if he gives me a funny look, I explain that beautiful can mean so much more than the “girly” version he automatically thinks of.
I will teach my children to always look clean & presentable and support them if they want to use their looks to let their creativity shine through (I’ll leave the tattoos for when they are adults though). I will point out the beauty in everything, especially things that don’t seem pleasing to the eye at first. I will make sure my daughter understands that Barbie is a toy and not a realistic representation of what she should look like. I won’t simply talk at them – I will talk with them. Open discussions about any topic we can think of. I will pay attention. I will talk to my daughter about self-esteem, body issues and what truly makes a person beautiful.
So will I continue to tell my daughter she is beautiful every day? Of course! As all of us women know, at one point in our lives, we will doubt our looks. I want to make sure my daughter always knows that she is the most beautiful girl in the world to at least one person. I also want her to know that at least one person in the world thinks she is the smartest, most creative, lovely, kind & caring person; so I will also compliment her many other qualities just as much, if not more. If you see either of my children, I give you full permission to praise them about anything you’d like – inside & out.