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September 07, 2010

Comments

Emily

Part of what is beautiful in children is their innocence. I think that mother was rude to you by the way!

Lisa Nash

Emily, I'm glad you mentioned the beauty of innocence, because that is something I should have added to the post -- the way it relates to modesty -- basically, that delightful, joyful happiness that comes from beauty is something that I think that modesty safeguards. When something is protected and guarded, it can still fresh, if that makes sense. I think this beauty is present in every woman, and when we maintain a certain level of modesty, it allows that beauty to survive in spite of the efforts of pop culture to expose and exploit it. Does this make sense?

Kellie

Maybe she was pissed off her kids had red hair? I marvel in Avas beauty daily. Just last night she examined herself in a friends mirror, brushed her hair back lightly, and whispered just loud enough for me to hear, "pretty...". I was stunned. I laughed so hard I almost spilled my banana pudding. I think my daughter is beautiful. Her hair has the cutest little curl at the end and her eyes have that bright young innocence. While reading your post I realized how often I tell Ava that she is pretty, I also realized how often I compliment her in other areas as well. I think as children grow older and begin to enhance their natural God-given beauty is where the dangers lie. God made Ava beautiful, just like he blessed her with a magnificient brain. I fully plan on flaunting all her attributes! "Hey look, my beautiful daughter just kicked your kids ass in the spelling bee!"

Diana

So great to read this - I have a baby girl and have had this same conversation with myself. I want her to grow up knowing how beautiful God has made her, yet have a healthy self-image without placing all her value on outward appearance.
There will be plenty of time for us to praise our girls' kindness, generosity, and other good character qualities that we pray will overflow - for now let's shamelessly revel in their sparkling eyes and sweet smiles. :)

Sharon

It's not just the girls. We frequently field compliments on behalf of our "beautiful" son. He's well aware of it, and preens on how "handsome" he is with the same enthusiastic preschool-boy braggadocio he applies to how "tough" and "brave" and "smart" he is, and how well he can jump, run, sing, count, draw, dance, help, etc. It's a challenge to build confidence without feeding vanity. We model politely accepting any kind of compliment with a simple "thank you," but try to steer our own away from inborn qualities like appearance and intelligence, and toward things accomplished through effort, practice, or deliberate thoughtfulness.

That said, I think most small children figure out pretty early that when parents and other relatives say, "so pretty," (or anything else, for that matter) in that babbly one-on-one context, what they really mean is, "I love you!"

Jean

As the mom of a beautiful redhaired daughter, I can tell you that the hair is the first, and often the only, thing people comment on. It makes her self-conscious, and I worry a bit about how her sister feels (she has gorgeous shampoo-commercial-worthy dark hair, but no one ever comments on it next to her sister's more striking looks). It gets a little old, so maybe the mom is just tired of it--but her response was WAY over the top and rude. I do not get offended by the comments about my daughter's hair at all--it IS beautiful and unusual and I admire it too. But it's also always about the hair! :)

Anyway, I do the same thing. My daughters are so beautiful and I can look at them forever. And I want them to be appreciated for so much more.

Melissa May

Oh how I've struggled with this same dilemma. You put it so perfectly, Lisa. I've decided that I'm not going to stop telling my little girl how pretty she is to me, but I'm going to make sure I point out all her other lovely attributes as well. She needs to hear it all!

Terri  B.

I think this is a very important topic. I believe if parents do not tell their daughter she is beautiful, then the first boy/man that does will likely have way more influence over her then is healthy. As females we are inclined to want to feel beautiful. In fact I believe from a very young age we are asking ourselves, our parents, and peers to affirm that we are in fact, lovely.

Keep in mind, that although it has been exploited, being physically beautiful is NOT a bad thing. God created everything that is beautiful. There are certainly examples in scripture where God used the physical beauty of a woman to give her favor and influence. Of course as parents we have to recognize and admire all areas of our child's good character, attitudes and actions above the importance of the external... but we should also be the first to tell them they are beautiful to behold- while they are still in the precious season of innocence.

Frankly, we KNOW our daughters are pretty- every little girl has something unique God has dressed her up with a bit. These things are a gift from Him. I also totally agree that physical beauty has become so exploited that it has almost become a liability, but that is how the enemy has always worked, doing what he can to make something ugly of what God has made lovely.

Whatpuritylookslike.wordpress.com

Oh Lisa, NEVER stop telling your little girl how beautiful she is because she NEVER stops needing to hear it. To this day I cherish the compliments of my parents. They help give me the confidence I need to conquer the world, and I think that Sharon put it so eloquently when she said it is just another way of saying "I love you". As she grows, I'm sure your daughter will know that you value the inside as much as the outside. And I'm sure you will teach her that while she is born with the external beauty she must chose the internal kind, and once obtained beauty within will only enhance beauty without.

I also cannot agree with Terri enough that if little girls don't hear "I love you, beautiful" from their parents they will seek out someone who will tell them. I've lost count of the number of women and girls who have told me they made poor life choices because someone, anyone, told them they were beautiful. Many of these girls even knew that these professions were made only because the professors wanted to use them, but just hearing the words meant so much they allowed themselves to be deceived in order to be "valued".

I also think it is important because one day daughters grow up to be women and a good man that truly loves her and thinks she is beautiful will enter her life. She is going to need to be able to accept his admiration. Men find it very discouraging when they tell the women they love that she is beautiful and then she questions him or points out the negatives of her appearance. It is healthy for a girl to learn how to accept and cherish the love and admiration of those close to her and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it.

"Why do we have such a complicated relationship with feminine beauty?"- Lisa, this just about sums it up. Like the rest of what makes a female a female, beauty is a delicate balancing act. A mixture of acceptance, reserve, pride, and graciousness all mingle together to make the unmistakable allure that is feminine beauty. So glad I get to be a women!!!!

Ranee @ Arabian Knits

I promised myself, before I had daughters, that if I ever had a daughter I wouldn't emphasize her physical appearance. Then I had our first girl. I could not shut up about how beautiful she was. She is beautiful. I want her and her sisters to be beautiful women, which is more than outward appearances, but they are pretty as well, and I don't want to deny that. I am stunned by how gorgeous our girls are, especially because I grew up hating how I looked. They are also funny, talented and smart. As they grow into those attributes, they get praised for them more, but as babies, pretty much all you have going for you is cuteness. ;-)

Our boys have always been called handsome and cute as well. The priest who married us was so glad to hear me saying "Hello, handsome" to our sons, and told me how important it would be to them to know that their mother found them handsome.

Stacy

I don't see anything wrong with telling your daughter she is beautiful. My mom told me growing up all the time and her compliments had nothing to do with my eating disorders and poor self-esteem. That came later as peers became more sexual in their judgments, people talking about being "hot" or "I'd bang her" and other things that middle school-age kids begin to say, and of course the magazines and the TV and the way the men in my family commented on women and actresses' appearances. To tell you the truth I'm not sure if I really noticed my mom telling me I was beautiful, it just kind of blended in with her hugs and shopping trips and other forms of mom-doting. She called my brother beautiful, too. She was also excited when we did well in sports, grades, or other accomplishments, and the beauty comments were actually closer to appreciating us just because we were her babies.

Cady Driver

Lol...all us moms are the same...we admire our daughter's beauty b/c they are a part of us. The trick is finding that healthy balance in what we speak over our children. While I do tell my girls that they are beautiful (and they are!) :) I have also spoken with them that their beauty is only skin deep. They could lose that beauty in a car accident, but would that mean that they are less valuable?

Of course not!

While outward beauty is a blessing, inward beauty is more elusive. Training your daughters in their character is a huge part of being a mother.

An old proverb....."Charm is fleeting and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised"

Oh, what a tricky line it is in our beauty obsessed culture!

Good article....I felt every word of it.

Darla Gaylor

There must be some balance. Throwing back to my past, I don't recall my mother (or father, for that matter) ever telling me I was pretty. And I never felt particular so. An extreme lack of dating in high school didn't help either, as it felt like even the guys didn't find me particularly appealing.

As an adult, I learned there was more to both my parents and the high school boys than I understood at the time. But as a teenager, none of those deeper issues were apparent to me, nor did they matter. I wanted to be "pretty", but felt that was an impossibility. Pretty was apparently reserved for the popular girls...or at least girls that weren't me.

I determined, among other things as a parent, my children were going to know they were beautiful... in all ways that are possible. I will not withhold telling my two girls they are stunning and lovely for fear they won't know that they are also intelligent and talented. I just compliment those attributes, too!

Indeed, external beauty is but of the things that makes up the whole of who we are and what we become. But fear of how "the world" seeks to twist the concept should not keep us from expressing our awe over how truly lovely our children are to us. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is it not? And you would no more withhold a compliment to God over the beauty of His natural creation that you should to one of His children.

Darla Gaylor

P.S. complete overreaction by the softball mom. If you had said her daughters' hair must be a real liability, making people focus so on their outward appearance, as it does, I wonder how she would have reacted. :)

Nurit Weizman

Great topic. And the way you talk about your children is really breathtaking.

My comment is incomplete and perhaps redundant as I only read the article and not all the other comments, but I just want to mention...
It could be that the mother who emphasized brains was referring to something much deeper, but just as we are not our hair, or our external beauty, we are also not our intelligence, our "brains". I am always a bit concerned when someone says, "There's more to a person than the quality of being good-looking. For example, the quality of intelligence" and then they stop at that. I disagree with this idea that intelligence is what makes someone more valuable/admirable or that complimenting our children for being so smart is that much deeper than doing it with regards to looks. Beauty and "smarts" are gifts given to us. It's how we use those gifts for good that's important.

ElioraImmanuel

While I can not deny the sheer beauty that I see in my children and in all others, I do not want my children to ever believe that their worth lies only in their physical appearance. But, how can our children Not be beautiful? They are, after all, created in the image of God. He, Himself, created all things beautiful. Just look around. I delight in beautiful eyes, that vibrant red hair, impish grins, and the shape that my 14 y/o daughter has taken on as a burgeoning young woman. This beauty is seen in all children....those who are born with congenital defects, the children in the slums of India and even in the children of those we consider "our enemies". I am constantly in awe of how beautiful people are! I do not mean that anorexic model or the starlet/star on the cover of the Us Magazines that we turn away from, either.

Therefore, I want my children to be able recognize beauty, but not just the stunning. More importantly, I want my chilren to be able to see the inner beauty of people and how the external beauty can be so very misleading. There is a glow that eminates from those who are filled with the love of God that is so unmistakable. This glow is not of our own doing and it testifies to the love inside. It is what draws people to me and my children because if others were to see us being human they would surely run the other way. The attraction is two fold. The first aspect we are born with because that is the way we are created. The second comes from within and is often lost to those jaded or damaged by the world.

In recognizing that internal beauty or lack there of, my children will be able to love, minister and pray for those they see or meet. Over a year ago my oldest daughter commented to me, at a Missionettes meeting nonetheless, about how beautiful one of the girls was. So, I asked my daughter why she thought that "M" was so pretty. My DD (dear daughter), "Sissy", went on and delineated some obvious physical attributes of "M". However, I sat back and asked my DD how this young 13 y/o girl treated others, dressed to display all she had, wore makeup applied with a large paint brush and what type of foul language came out of the mouth of "M"?

It was evident to me that "M" was very hurt and angry and seeking true love. I knew her parents never expressed concern about any aspect of "M's" life. A few girls in the program pretended to be "M's" friend to her face, but spoke very nastily about her when she wasn't around. I never want my children to to this! Sissy tried very hard to really treat "M" with love, but in the end "M" verbally and nearly physically assaulted her in a very foul manner. Believe me, I was enraged that my tender-hearted DD was hurt, but it gave us an opportunity to forgive and pray for "M".

Now, 18 months more mature, Sissy is able to really see hurt and need in others. She has an incredible heart for people. She loves, she prays and she serves. She desperately wants to share the love of Christ with everyone because she knows how He loves her and has changed her. Her desire it to be a missionary and to really love and serve with her life. This desire is so intense that she nearly gave up a 2 week vacation to Florida with her Grandmother so that she could stay home and pick the brains of the Missionaries that are coming next week. She says her spirit leaps within her at the thought of being a Missionary.

That, in my humble opinion, is true beauty.

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