We’ve collectively lost our parenting minds. How do I know? Not only are modern parents endlessly hovering over every single aspect of our kids’ childhood, now we’re even policing and self-censoring the loving and complimentary words that come out of our own mouths.
Did you just tell your daughter she is pretty and lovely? Shame on you. Did you tell your son he is handsome and strong? Nope, can’t do that. Take it all back.
Evidently, these days our bubble-wrapped children aren’t able to take a damn compliment from their parents without it deeply damaging the core of their self-worth. I don’t buy it. I don’t buy the fact that if we tell a little girl she is pretty, we are somehow giving her inner psyche beauty bruises and destroying her spirit. We have falsely bought into believing that saying, “You look pretty today!” really means, “Your value is only in your physical appearance.” Wrong. It’s means one thing: You think she looks pretty. Period.
Let’s go back to the day the nurse put your baby boy or girl in your arms for the very first time. What did you say? Did you give any pause before you said, “She is beautiful!” or “He is gorgeous!” Of course you didn’t. I can’t imagine that at first glance of your little miracle of life, you wanted to blurt out, “You are more than your appearance.” You innately felt something, so you said something. You were the beholder, you saw beauty, so you said so. “She is beautiful” you said. “He’s perfectly handsome,” you cried.
Why have we gotten away from that? Your children are beautiful. They are beautiful inside and out, and they need and should be told. I, for one, do not want my hormone-fueled 20-year-old son to be the first person to tell your daughter she is pretty. No young woman should ever, ever have to wait that long to be told they are pretty. I want her to know she is; I want her to have been told a thousand times she is. I don’t want her saying back, “Nobody ever told me that before”—how incredibly sad.
Are you afraid that if you tell your kids they’re pretty and handsome they won’t also think they’re strong, smart, and capable? Bull crap. Tell them that too! Tell them of course they are worth more than their appearance, and beauty encompasses not just physical features, but their spirit and their soul. In the same way you acknowledge outer beauty, acknowledge inner ugliness. Is you kid being rude, impolite, or intolerant? Tell them so. Remind them that bad attitudes can make even the prettiest girl on the block unattractive, and remind them often.
The beauty standards the media has set up for our young girls and boys are more than just unattainable, they are downright ridiculous. When you have a magazine geared towards 8- to 12-year-old girls publishing two-page spreads on finding the right swimsuit for her prepubescent body type, you know this world is out of control. No young girl needs to be thinking only the bodies and faces she sees on models gracing magazine covers and Victoria’s Secret catalogs are real and true reflections of beauty. She needs to know she is beautiful too. So tell her. Tell your son too.
Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait for the perfect time, or the perfect place, or the perfect age. Just tell your kids everything you love about them, including their beauty, the very second you feel it. Stop holding back, before it’s too late.
Tell them, and tell them now, while you are still the beholder, and they are still the beauty. Aren’t they worth it?