Everyone is constantly saying it.
Pretty dress. Pretty smile. Pretty shoes. Pretty eyes. Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.
I say it to her too (and I mean it).
But I ALSO want her to know that she is smart, capable, strong, inventive, kind, brave, loving, and creative.
I want her to know that - when it comes down to it - I don't really care if her clothes match or her hair is brushed.
I want her to find beauty in nature, in acts of service, in moments of familiarity at home - not on the covers of magazines or on TV.
So I try my best not to fuss too much over the frizz in MY hair or the size of MY hips. And I try to praise her intellect, her ambition, and her integrity...often.
Yesterday, she skipped into my room with a dress on that she picked out all by herself. "Do I look pretty, mama?" she wanted to know.
I smiled, "Yes, you look super pretty! But do you know where true beauty comes from?"
She beamed at me, "From your heart?"
Yes, my sweet girl. Yes.
How do you teach your daughter(s) about true beauty? Have you noticed that people tend to compliment outward appearances more than character, talent, or tenderheartedness?
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Wonderful post - we share similair views on the importance of teaching our daughter about "true beauty" - especially within.
It must be so difficult raising girls. I can't imagine even trying!(and she IS pretty :)
Indeed she is really pretty :-) Both of you little princess are!!!! and so do you :-)
We use a biblical verses to teach them that
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised"
Not that our girls will learn that outward appearance is not important, but that it's not what's most important in life!
They know that they need to be dress and groom to please the Lord(modesty is very important to us)and that inner beauty is very important. Cultivating godly feminine attributes :-)
I'm so glad to find you online. I'm enjoying your candid style in your posts and wanted to say hello! I have four daughters, and they look completely different. Even in upper elementary, I've started hearing my oldest come home using words like fat and ugly. They find it pretty inhospitable here, so they don't linger much. But it breaks my heart that each of my girls will have to struggle through this on their own and find who God made them to be in their own timing. That included a lot of heart ache for me - I so wish I could protect them from these things. But I believe in them too. Guess I'll just have to grow up a little as I help them walk through increasingly tough issues!
Thanks again for your post!
What a great question! I'm devoting next month to beauty and style and think this will make a great post. I'm going to try to tackle how I'll answer that for my two girls. May I link back to your post?
Thanks for asking, Nicole. Of course - please feel free to link to my post as part of your series. I'd be honored. :)
oh your daughter is so adorable... love that you're teaching her about the inward beauty. Since I have a son, it's hard for me to answer your question, but I know we want to teach him to look for inner beauty and strong character in women as he grows older/starts dating and not to focus on external appearances.
Yes, I do see folks do this often, and honestly, it is an easy trap to fall in as a mom myself. My husband is always careful to tell our daughter she's beautiful every day -- but this is to keep her standards high when she begins dating (it goes along with the whole "Date with Daddy" thing).
We are also sure to tell her she's sweet, loving, etc. when she does something kind for someone else or just hugs for no reason.
I try to praise both of my kids for their compassion and intelligence and effort as much as for merely being cute. I know that eventually they will get sucked into the superficial but it's so important to know where real value lies.
I have had the same conversation with my daughter numerous times. She will ask if she looks pretty a quite, and like you, I tell her she does look absolutely fabulous and go on to ask what makes her really pretty and just like your daughter she says, "from my heart". I am so pleased that she knows this. It brings my heart joy when she 'gets it'. One day we were at the store and someone said to her, "You are so pretty!" and she got a bit shy and I said, "What do you say Analise (expecting her to say 'thank you'). To which she replied, "Thanks, but it is my heart that makes me pretty. My heart and my brother." I about melted.
Because self-esteem is something I have struggled with over the years, I have been and continue to pray that she will be confident in who God made her to be, and how He made her. I try to encourage her in so many ways, along with telling her what I think makes her and other people pretty...and encouraging her to tell others what she sees in them that is a pretty quality (like when she told her brother she thought he was such a great friend because he shared his cars with her or when she told her friend Emma that she was kind). I could go on and on. All of this to say that YOU are doing a fabulous job with your girls...and they are pretty...in so many ways...just like their mama!
Your daughter's answer was SO sweet. You are obviously doing a million things right, Nini! I am happy to "know" you and I hope we meet in-person someday.
It must be so difficult raising girls. I can't imagine even trying!
(and she IS pretty :)
Audrey is all about the word pretty right now. She loves to say it.
She is still too young to talk to about finding the pretty in other things other than the looks, but I think we show her through our actions.
I give her healthy things to eat, take her on runs, to see nature, and we show her love between our family every day.
I read her stories about kids from different cultures.
I hope she sees the "pretty" in all of these things as well.
Yet, if she feels good in a pretty dress ( like I always do) then by all means...wear it!
What a true post! I remember when my oldest was about one. I made sure to tell her anytime I, or someone else, told her she was pretty, that she was also smart. I like the idea of telling her it comes from her heart! I'm going to do that! Thanks!
I just try to point out the lovely things that each of us encompass and how its all different, internal beauty, external, and feelings, etc.
For example, my oldest daughter notices differences in peoples hair. She's always commenting on hair, I guess because its one of the first things people notice/mention about her (her curls). And she often tells me "That girl has beautiful curls just like me." And I'll just tell her that yes the hair is beautiful, but its not what counts.
In the world we live in today, being "pretty" is what girls want to hear. I know that as a woman it makes me feel great when my husband says I'm pretty, even on days when I feel "blah"...it's an instance boost for me. I think that it is important for girls to feel pretty...especially from their daddy's. HOWEVER.....
We don't go overboard telling our children how "pretty" they are, but instead we make them feel special and valued! For instance...our daughter is super smart, very funny, totally into theater and acting,loves to sing and has a passion for cooking! We are ALWAYS telling her how awesome and unique she is! We also praise her for wanting to help others in need, like when she wants to go to work with me and help Wish Kids. We get out paper and crayons when she wants to send "love letters" to her great-grandma in Illinois, just because she wants to make her smile when she gets the mail.
Beauty shines through what's in your heart. There are several people in my life that are gorgeous, beautiful and pretty because of the AMAZING things they do for others!
My daughter is still too young to talk about pretty...LOL. But my mother always say beauty is nice, but character is greater. She instilled in us how important it is to have good character and attitude, and to always keep a positive outlook even in the worst situations.
Yes, yes, yes, Stephanie. Couldn't agree more. This is such a great (and important) post!
Hugs to you, my friend,
I think I do much the same as you do. We teach that her beauty really comes from her attitude, her heart, her generosity, her use of her intelligence and other gifts, and all those other attributes. I do think it's important to let her know she's physically beautiful, too, though. Working with high school girls for as long as I have, I recognize that as much as she knows what true beauty is and where it comes from, it is nearly impossible to escape the world's views on beauty. Girls whose parents (and especially fathers) don't tell them they are pretty struggle a lot with that in their teen years and are likely to get into emotional and psychological trouble. I want my girls to know in their hearts where beauty really comes from and whose opinion really matters, but I want them to feel physically pretty when those doubts come, too.
I agree wholeheartedly! We want our girls to hear daily that we think they are beautiful - inside & out. Tim and I don't hesitate to compliment their lovely blonde curls, their true blue eyes, and their captivating smiles. But we also strive to point out their more enduring traits - compassion, generosity, gentleness, unselfishness, etc.
My mom was always concerned about her weight and it really effected me, because I was always a little bigger than her...if she was "fat" then what did that mean I was? I have made it clear that I don't want any of that talk around my daughter. My daughter is still a little young to understand "true beauty" and I must admit, my nick name for her is "Pretty". My son always asks me why I call her that. I say, "Because she is pretty." I guess I just want her to feel pretty and loved. Some of my nick names growing up weren't the kindest, even though family members didn't mean to be mean...it did hurt. I want my daughter to have confidence and at the same time teach her to be a kind person, loving and most of all, a heart for the Lord.
"Pretty" is a nickname I use for both of my girls too. That and...Sweet Pea, Gorgeous-rilla, Blue Eyes, Teddy Ruxpin, etc. Too many to count! ;)
"Mom, will I be pretty?" I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, "No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you
will be and no child of mine will be contained in five letters. You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing, but you will never be merely pretty." ~~Katie Makkai~~
Sabrina especially has been told she is beautiful to the point it has started to lose meaning to her. I try to compliment 2 internal things for every external thing because I want her to know what is truly important but it is hard in our looks obsessed society.
I'm trying to teach my 3-year-old the same thing. I try to remind her that there are two kinds of beauty, and that it's more important to be beautiful on the inside. That beauty comes by being honest, kind, and happy.
I like Lisa's idea of using the word fancy for clothes and "things," and saving beautiful for who they are
I really try hard not to say my daughter is pretty, (even though she is.) Let me enclose picture:
I want to focus on inner beauty too. It is so hard because she hears it from everyone else. I really worry about self esteem and body issues and hope that I can instill value that is less surface more deep in her.
And it isn't just girls. My baby is just flat out adorable, totally beautiful and wickedly handsome --- and we tell him that every single day. It's so hard not to. When I look at him, the inside of me wells up and my heart bursts and out comes the praise for his amazing smile and big beautiful eyes...
no kiddos yet...but I pray that I can instill these things in their minds while they grow up!
Great post! (P.S. She is very pretty :)
In our house, I try really hard to reinforce that true beauty comes from within...that real beauty is when God's light shines through us. And we talk about how to make sure that happens. Emma often asks me, "Do you see God's light shining now"? :)
Don't get me wrong. With two little girls, princesses and dresses and tiaras and pretty headbands are BIG in this house. BIG. But I often substitute the word "fancy" for "pretty" and/or "beautiful" just to differentiate the importance.
But I do like them to feel beautiful and free. And if that means wearing a "fancy" dress to pick up the cleaning, well, we do. After all, what's the harm in making an earrand a bit more glamorous! ;)
I really love how you handle this topic, Lisa! You're lighthearted, but also intentional. Thanks for being such a great example to all of us.
Yes, people are more eager to comment on outward beauty than inner. I try to set an example by complimenting people on things other than their own outward beauty so that my kids see and hear me. Sometimes it's a funny joke. Or that they listened to their mom. Or that they shared their toys. I hope that I compliment my kids on their inner beauty as often...it's something I am going to be very conscious of.
Our kids will definitely pick up on what is truly important to us. They see where we focus our time and energy, and they are listening to what brings us real joy. So for our family, I think just talking - a lot! - about our passions and goals, and being sure to include our kids on those conversations helps them see the bigger picture.
My daughter has kind of a "big personality", so that tends to get more comments than her appearance. But there's still plenty of talk about what she's wearing or her hair, which I think is inevitable for little girls. I think we can help our daughters keep a balance by reminding them of the things that really matter, and supporting them in whatever dreams they want to pursue.