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How to parent a beautiful child? - Page 2

post #21 of 53

I get this allll the time with my son too.   He has big curly hair, and a very unusual big bright blue eyes (that change from a really strong blue to bright green depending on what he is wearing), and an olive skin tone.  He is also very petite, the size of a 2yr old although he will be 4 in July! 

People usually first think he is a girl, and comment on how beautiful "she" is.  He now corrects them on his own....  "Im a boy, my name is Levi, I'm three years old, whats your name?"    And then they comment on how smart he is (some then go on about how beautiful "he" is, and how he is going to be a ladies man etc).  

 

Ds is a big talker so will usually distract from the 'looks' by that.   I've taught him to be very polite (please and thank you, nice to meet you, shake hands, etc) which gets a lot of compliments (I guess its not that common anymore for kids to do this,  according to a lot of older people), and he isnt shy and talks to people, so people can see right away there is much much more to him than his looks.    

 

It was harder when he was a baby and all a random person could really see was what he looked like, sense he started talking (he was talking like this and able to hold a converstation by 18months or so), it made a big difference because there was the looks, and then on top of that him being polite and articulate and he likes to talk about things he's done (telling people about a science project he just did or how his bike works, or asking about their pet dog, or even if its a parent, asking all about their kids!

 

 

Sometimes its just a passing comment, and I just say "thanks".   I think ds hears it so much that he doesn't even think about it anymore, which I'm not sure if thats a good thing or not.   

post #22 of 53

You know, when I was younger my dad always told me how beautiful I was, and how great I always looked.  I certainly didn't believe him all the time (especially when I was a super awkward teenager!) but it REALLY helped my self esteem!  I'm the only woman I know that didn't have major self esteem issues when I was growing up. 

 

My parents also praised my other qualities (smart, athletic, fun, etc), but hearing, often, that I was beautiful really helped my self esteem.  I had my moments of being self conscious, but I was the one girl I knew as a teen that wasn't obsessed about my weight, my acne, my hair, make-up (I've never liked wearing make-up), or really anything about my appearance b/c I got that positive feed back at home. 

 

I would try to separate the good qualities, and let beauty be its own.  Yes, your dd is smart, and has other talents than just her looks - but I think you can separate them out.  So, focus on how good she is at building sand castles at the beach, and how great she draws and paints when she's doing crafts, and when she's play dress-up I think its perfectly fine to tell her she's the most beautiful girl you've ever seen.  All good qualities don't need to be emphasized every time you give her a compliment.

post #23 of 53


This is what I was going to say.  I think deep down ALL women WANT to know that we are beautiful.  That somebody, and preferrably our parents and our spouse, find us beautiful.  It doesn't have to be in the typical way, either.  Just that we have a special beauty for the world, and it's all our own.  I think it isn't a bad thing for a child to be filled up with the knowledge that they are beautiful...even if it isn't in the "standard accepted" way.  For a child to know that they ARE beautiful is relieving and freeing, I think.  It doesn't mean that's all she is, or that you have to deflect the comments when they come in.  Just say "thank you" and be sure to fill her up other times with all of the other things she is, too.  I think deflecting it all the time will make her wonder how YOU feel about her. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

You know, when I was younger my dad always told me how beautiful I was, and how great I always looked.  I certainly didn't believe him all the time (especially when I was a super awkward teenager!) but it REALLY helped my self esteem!  I'm the only woman I know that didn't have major self esteem issues when I was growing up. 

 

My parents also praised my other qualities (smart, athletic, fun, etc), but hearing, often, that I was beautiful really helped my self esteem.  I had my moments of being self conscious, but I was the one girl I knew as a teen that wasn't obsessed about my weight, my acne, my hair, make-up (I've never liked wearing make-up), or really anything about my appearance b/c I got that positive feed back at home. 

 

I would try to separate the good qualities, and let beauty be its own.  Yes, your dd is smart, and has other talents than just her looks - but I think you can separate them out.  So, focus on how good she is at building sand castles at the beach, and how great she draws and paints when she's doing crafts, and when she's play dress-up I think its perfectly fine to tell her she's the most beautiful girl you've ever seen.  All good qualities don't need to be emphasized every time you give her a compliment.



 

post #24 of 53

DD (just turned 3) gets constant compliments when we go out. She does have the whole blonde-with-blue-eyes thing going on; and Mum and I are both into sewing, so people often compliment her dresses as well.

 

Honestly, at this point I'm just used to it, and I don't let it bug me. DD may very well not be beautiful forever - I frankly disagree with the "all kids are beautiful" statement. I certainly wasn't. :p And then had a truly ghastly adolescence on top of it. Nowadays I don't exactly frighten small children, but I'm not particularly attractive either - I think I peaked at the age of three, which is DD's age now! And I suffered a LOT as a child and teenager from constant comparisons to one particularly beautiful sister (who, interestingly, wasn't blonde-haired and blue-eyed like me; dark eyes and hair, olive skin). My parents never told me once that I was pretty - whether out of a scrupulous sense of honesty or a desire to better my character, I don't know. But I heard them talking about my sister's beauty all the time. So yeah, that was fun.

 

So that's shaped my attitude... which is pretty much to be happy that DD, at least at this stage of her life, is considered beautiful. She doesn't tend to ask me about it, but I tell her she's pretty on a regular basis as well - and she says the same to me, which is rather nice!

 

I personally don't like the "Yes, and I'm smart too" kind of responses. I don't like encouraging kids to brag, for one thing; and being smart is really just as arbitrary a gift of God/nature/genetics as beauty is. It's not an indicator of character or moral worth. If a teacher told a child she was smart, would you encourage her to say "Yes, and I'm pretty too"? I think people should be permitted to give specific, non-holistic compliments without being rapped over the knuckles. When I compliment an adult friend, it's usually on something fairly specific which doesn't address her wholeness as a person (ie. "I like your haircut" or "You do amazing crochet"); I'd be rather hurt, or at least put off, if she responded with "Yes, but I'm more than just my haircut - I also have a Masters degree and run a half-marathon every year!". So I'd tend to encourage children to respond graciously to the compliment, and address any issues of holistic self-worth later at home.

 

At this stage, "she's beautiful" comments are usually said to me rather than DD anyway, and she ignores those; if someone says something directly to her like "Aren't you cute!" she'll usually look at her dress, as she still largely associates beauty with dressing up!

post #25 of 53

My thoughts on this are really ambiguous and messy.  There are so many complicating factors.  I think mainstream physical beauty is a kind of giftedness, like being smart or athletic or musically gifted, or anything else.  Even though I want my children to be smart, I don't necessarily think that promoting intelligence over beauty as more worthy, when not everyone will have a higher than average IQ for a number of reasons, including how society defines it. Of course you have to acknowledge these kinds of giftedness, and as parents we have to interact with our children in the way that helps them best navigate these complicated waters and turn out to be kind and well-adjusted adults.  

 

Beauty as a gift seems the most nebulous, I guess because it is so subjective, and because it changes.  Many children are beautiful when they are younger, like under 8, but it's difficult to know if they will garner that same attention as they get older, and probably they won't because I think people are more willing to compliment younger children than older ones in this way.  And then there is what I think of as that awkward phase that lasts for a few years, and that's probably crucial with the self esteem thing.

 

It honestly doesn't seem to matter if you're beautiful if you believe that you are at least attractive and worthwhile.  I'm sure we've all known beautiful but self-doubting people, and really confident people who were attractive and had a certain flair, but that were maybe not that conventionally pretty. That internal belief is a different thing from the external reinforcement, and that type of reinforcement can have it's own problems.  So I guess just acknowledging that you think your child is beautiful, other people may think s/he is beautiful and may make comments; then there is the flip side that others might not feel the same way, they may say negative things.  I think it's hard to know how to trust some of the things people say, especially if they want something from you, but I guess that is best left for a later discussion.   

 

I think showcasing what other cultures considers beautiful is important as well.  I find that my kids often have a completely different idea of what pretty is and means than I do.  My older daughter and I don't agree on who we find pretty, and sometimes there are children I find breathtakingly beautiful that other people seem to overlook.  When my daughter was younger, I noticed other parents in my AP/NFL circle of friends would tell their children as beautiful or cute often in the course of playing with them, and then I started doing it because I didn't want people to think I didn't think my children weren't cute.  :lol   But I don't remember hearing this when I grew up.  

 

When I saw photos of myself as a baby, I thought I was cute, so I asked my mom if people thought I was, and she said yes.  But basically I've been fat all my life, so it was always made very clear to me that I wasn't pretty.  For some reason, a glutton for punishment, when I was definitely not pretty (like 11 or so), I asked my older sister if I was pretty and she said, "you're pretty in your own way."  I knew that absolutely meant I wasn't pretty, and that the rare time my mom would say something indicating I was, that she really was lying because she was my mom.  

 

I have tried to come to terms with not being pretty. Over the years I've tried to embrace being ugly as a powerful, self affirming kind of thing, but sometimes I really believe it and it gets me down, which just seems downright shameful considering how blessed I am in life. I take lots of photos of myself, trying to find good ones, but I don't throw away the bad ones either, and I keep the not-so-attractive ones of my children as well as the ones that I think put them in the best light, although I pretty much don't show my older daughter the ones I think she won't like, and I will delete photos if they ask me to.  But just today, I showed my daughter a cell phone pic I took of her on her birthday, and I was surprised that she liked it.  She thinks she is ugly, and she's not.  She hates her nose, and I can understand that, but I think that she has a good nose that she will look really good on her when she grows up a bit.  So I try to be honest, and she's honest back (yeah, I'm glad I don't have your nose, it has way too much cartilage in it).

 

Anyway, today I was taking photos of myself, for some reason, and I was looking at all the things I hate, the more recent things due to age, and I was wondering why in the heck I'm so ugly, but then I honestly did start to think that maybe I'm not, maybe there is a kind of beauty in all things.  I really would like my daughters to have more confidence in how they appear to others, both physically and intellectually, because I do think it hampers your life to be so inept in the things that society values.  But I think kids are least likely to believe their mothers can be objective, so I'm not sure how to handle that.

 

ETA: I'm not really sure how to navigate this with my children, because I think ultimately I want to downplay the idea that being pretty really matters, but somehow it mattered to me and I don't think this was the type of thing promoted in my day and age.  I get criticized by my family when I say things that indicate I don't think my children are beautiful enough, but in some ways my kids seem pretty sanguine about it.  My 7 year old doesn't seem to notice it at all, and my 12 year old can seem to criticize her looks without taking it too seriously--I mean she seems to get where it goes in the grand scheme of things, but it's hard to say how it really influences her.

 

I think it's interesting, however, because my sister is the one who gives me flak for not telling my kids they are beautiful or seemingly not recognizing that they are smart, but her grandkids are stunning and seem pretty bright to me, and it's not like she waxes on about it to them.  So I almost wonder if she's overcompensating, or if it's just she lives with her grandkids and I live with my kids, so we are both used to them and we feel they are under appreciated, or something.

post #26 of 53

 

Quote:
I have tried to come to terms with not being pretty.

Awww... If that's you in your avatar, I think you're pretty darn cute!

 

(Sorry. Long day.)

post #27 of 53

Ok, if I try to be objective about it--I am above average in looks.  I'm not drop dead gorgeous.  I'm not a movie star.  But I am very good looking, maybe a 7?  Probably an 8 when I am going to the gym 5 days a week.  People have responded positively to my looks throughout my lifetime.  When my older daughter was a baby everyone we passed, including teenage boys, would gasp and stop me to tell me I had the most beautiful baby they have ever seen.  It was weird for me.  I have gotten a lot of compliments personally, people stop me on the street to tell me they like my smile/hair/clothes/whatever, and it is still weird and jarring when it happens to my daughter.  I feel like I should deflect it even though I am thrilled when someone says something to me.

 

I really hate that impulse in myself.  I feel like it probably comes from that awful female competitive place inside me.  I don't want to be ignored now in favor of my much more beautiful young daughter!  It's one of those Opportunity For Growth moments.  What I am trying to do is talk to my daughter about the fact that yes, being good looking is a gift.  It's one you can use how you choose.  She has already picked up on the connection between being well groomed and in a nice dress and WAY more compliments.  She isn't even three.  But she prefers to be in grubby clothes most of the time with unbrushed hair.  It's her raggamuffin look. <3  She likes it because then she has more freedom to move in the world without people singling her out for attention.  I talk to her about how convenient it is to be able to turn on and off that attention.  I'm trying to show her that she can be comfortable and confident about being beautiful and still know that at times you want to downplay it so you can get on with other things.

 

Who knows if it will work or not.  I'm not going to tell anyone to do it my way.  She's only three.  What the heck do I know? :)

post #28 of 53
I felt awkward about this too for a while because DD1 constantly got comments on her golden curls and how beautiful she is, etc...it never stopped, people would pick up her hair and say how they were going to keep it, lol

After a while, she was a little fixated on her hair and asking me if she looked pretty in whatever she was wearing. As she got a little older, she's almost 6 now, her hair got longer and longer and the weight of it made the ringlets move farther down with the top part of her hair being wavy but not the ringlet look. She got upset but when I told her that it was still pretty, she looked at it and said yes she does love it anyway.
People still say they love her hair but it's not as effusive and she doesn't want to cut her hair yet and likes it the way it is.
She still likes to dress in dresses and look pretty, etc... but now she also loves and is proud of the other stuff she can do that has nothing to do with being pretty but with being smart or good at push ups or whatever.

There is a TV show that I love to watch and the majority of the people featured on it say they have never felt pretty. Their self esteem sucks and it overshadowed their lives because they just felt inferior to the people around them even though they have high powered careers or are really admired for their accomplishments. They really are pretty in different ways, some of them are truly beautiful, but they don't see it until they have a new haircut or clothes that complement their features instead of covering them completely. Every single person that I've seen on there feels good about themselves at the end and still look like themselves but instead of trying to hide, they step forward with a totally different attitude.
Like it or not, beauty and physical attractiveness are noticed first and if you feel unattractive it can really change your confidence in yourself.
I think how you feel about your looks is much more important than if you are conventionally beautiful.

I never was told I was pretty when I was growing up and even though I was intellectually "gifted" I still had a lack of confidence until I was older and my good friends found that out and helped me feel better about myself because they thought I was.
post #29 of 53

In my experience it peaks at around 3 or 4

 After that people feel a little more awkward about commenting, I think. I agree that cultivating not appearance related interests, and teaching her to accept praise graciously is probably the best. My "beautiful" dd is 8. She plays year round sports, and isn't really concerned about her looks!

post #30 of 53

I dont think we are encouraging our kids to say "Yes, I am smart too." But we are encouraging other people to stop focussing on just one part of them. Which is perfectly acceptable.

 

I also disagree that IQ is just as genetically determined. Their actual IQ may be somewhat inherited. But what they do with it is more defining. Some kids truely struggle with learning and stating that they have accomplished academic sucess is just as important as their looks.

 

Also, when your an adult, refocussing praise to something that you consider worthy is acceptable also. I get told I'm pretty. I would rather be told that I am a good mum, a good wife. That I make cute clothes etc. Not a one dimensional focus that I,as a person, had little to do with.

post #31 of 53

We get that a lot here too. DD(6) is gorgeous, very petite(32lbs and 48"), black hair/dark brown eyes/light olive skin tone.... and she loves to wear dresses/skirts, frilly hair bows/headbands, necklaces, and lately nail polish. We're talking the epitome of a girly-girl. We hear it all the time starting from when she was a baby, I've had countless people tell me to put her in a pageant/modeling, but we refuse to do it. I just try to play up all her other attributes, other than beauty, as much as possible.

 

post #32 of 53

Is this really a special circumstance?  Don't most kids, especially girls, get this pretty much every time they leave the house (I have often thought how nice to be a little girl and have strangers tell you you're the most beautiful one in the world, reliably, a hundred times a day)?  My daughter is five, we go to a park full of kids pretty much every day. I hear, "she's so beautiful, she has such beautiful hair" eleventy billion times and I probably say something similar back just as often. It's just how people talk about kids.  Don't most parents think their children are exceptionally beautiful?  I know I do. 

 

There are worse things than my daughter growing up thinking she's beautiful and knowing her mother thinks she's beautiful. 

 

For some people, beauty is a fact.  Teach her to say thank you and move on.  For some people, smart or athletic or funny are facts.  If someone complimented your child on any of these, you'd just teach her to say thank you.  Why should pretty be any different?

post #33 of 53

*


Edited by Cascadian - 6/2/11 at 7:37pm
post #34 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

Is this really a special circumstance?  Don't most kids, especially girls, get this pretty much every time they leave the house (I have often thought how nice to be a little girl and have strangers tell you you're the most beautiful one in the world, reliably, a hundred times a day)?  My daughter is five, we go to a park full of kids pretty much every day. I hear, "she's so beautiful, she has such beautiful hair" eleventy billion times and I probably say something similar back just as often. It's just how people talk about kids.  Don't most parents think their children are exceptionally beautiful?  I know I do. 

 

There are worse things than my daughter growing up thinking she's beautiful and knowing her mother thinks she's beautiful. 

 

For some people, beauty is a fact.  Teach her to say thank you and move on.  For some people, smart or athletic or funny are facts.  If someone complimented your child on any of these, you'd just teach her to say thank you.  Why should pretty be any different?


 

No.  This is not universal.  People don't comment on my second daughter being cute or beautiful.  They say she is "sweet".  It's dramatic.  I put her in frillier girly stuff because I'm not as hung up on being gender neutral this time and people will occasionally tell me my son is handsome.  That's about it.  This is going to get awkward.

post #35 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post




 

No.  This is not universal.  People don't comment on my second daughter being cute or beautiful.  They say she is "sweet".  It's dramatic.  I put her in frillier girly stuff because I'm not as hung up on being gender neutral this time and people will occasionally tell me my son is handsome.  That's about it.  This is going to get awkward.


We have experienced this as well, and this is the part of the whole phenomenon that bothers me most. My DD1 attracts attention because of her light blond, curly hair, fair complexion and huge, strikingly blue eyes. She is also lithe and "girly". OTOH, DD2 is more substantially built with olive skin, huge nearly black eyes, and short, curly brown hair.  To me, they are both quite beautiful in their own ways. But to the general public, not so. I even had someone wax on and on about DD1's "beauty" and then look at DD2 and say, "Too bad for her." I could have cried. The last thing I want to create is a competitive dynamic between them about appearance!

 

post #36 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post




 

No.  This is not universal.  People don't comment on my second daughter being cute or beautiful.  They say she is "sweet".  It's dramatic.  I put her in frillier girly stuff because I'm not as hung up on being gender neutral this time and people will occasionally tell me my son is handsome.  That's about it.  This is going to get awkward.

I agree that it is not universal.  I have been in situations where there was lots of attention given to my son's looks and not a word said about all the little girls there.  I have posted threads on this before so I don't want to hijack, but suffice it to say it makes me very uncomfortable, and I don't think reinforcing it to my son is the answer.
 

 

post #37 of 53

MY BOYS GET THIS ALL THE TIME. I OFTEN GET ADVICE TO PUT THEM IN COMMERCIALS.I THINK BECAUSE THEY ARE BOYS, ITS LESS OF AN ISSUE THAN IF THEY WERE GIRLS.

 

IN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION, I WOULD SAY PARENT THEM THE SAME WAY YOU PARENT  ANY CHILD-THE BEST WAY YOU CAN.  I DONT THINK ITS ANY DIFFERENT. ITS OK TO TELL THEM THEY ARE  HANDSOME OR PRETTY, JUST AS LONG AS  THAT IS NOT THE ONLY THING YOU EVER SAY TO THEM, OR THE ONLY QUALITY YOU EVER REMARK ON.

 

ENCOURAGE SENSITIVITY TOWARDS THEIR LESS WELL ENDOWED PEERS, AND TALK ABOUT OTHER VALUES THAN LOOKS.

 

 

post #38 of 53
My older dd has striking features and is often told how beautiful she is, and I do try to downplay it. Growing up, my sister was always told how beautiful she was, and really that became her self image. Unfortunately, she became a pretty plain adult, and since her self image was built around being beautiful, she had a very hard time coming up with something else to hold onto to feel good about. I was a funny looking kid, and people praised me on my intelligence, and never on my looks. No matter how I've looked, I've never felt bad about it, even when covered with pregnancy acne and bloated. I don't really care how I look.

This is a hard issue because in our culture, women are judged on appearance more than anything else. I'd like my girls, even the one with striking features, to not have that be their personal touchstone. And it is for a lot of girls and women.
post #39 of 53

I was always the sibling not receiving the comments. 

My sister`s beauty peaked right around when I started going through the awkward pre-pubescent stage and got really chubby. She had gorgeous light brown hair, gigantic blue eyes, and was really skinny. I definitely paid the price.

But now that we are both grown up, I don`t think she is at all prettier than I am. Her nose has gotten broader and my face has gotten thinner highlighting my high cheekbones. She is still gorgeous (she really does have killer eyes) but I am also pretty, although there is no way I am rating myself.

 

I watched my little cousins as a teenager and one girl was also complimented constantly and the other was not, she was actually rather funny looking as a baby and now their looks have also evened out. They are both still in an awkward stage but are nevertheless gorgeous. I really don`t think beauty as a child necessarily indicates future looks. Some really strange looking kids making stunning adults. 

 

My daughter is the sort of kid that gets compliments, when she stays still long enough, curly blonde hair, hazel eyes, delicate features but she looks like someone who is not beautiful as an adult so I don`t know if the beauty will stick. I do want her to always think that she is gorgeous. For now, I think it is great she has that advantage because grown ups and kids pay a lot more attention to her than they do to other kids but I am not sure how I would handle the situation if my second isn`t as adorable. DH and I are a very odd combo of looks and DH has some very unusual and unique features which I love on him but I don`t know how they would look combined with some of my features.

post #40 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

 

I personally don't like the "Yes, and I'm smart too" kind of responses. I don't like encouraging kids to brag, for one thing; and being smart is really just as arbitrary a gift of God/nature/genetics as beauty is. It's not an indicator of character or moral worth. If a teacher told a child she was smart, would you encourage her to say "Yes, and I'm pretty too"? I think people should be permitted to give specific, non-holistic compliments without being rapped over the knuckles. When I compliment an adult friend, it's usually on something fairly specific which doesn't address her wholeness as a person (ie. "I like your haircut" or "You do amazing crochet"); I'd be rather hurt, or at least put off, if she responded with "Yes, but I'm more than just my haircut - I also have a Masters degree and run a half-marathon every year!". So I'd tend to encourage children to respond graciously to the compliment, and address any issues of holistic self-worth later at home.

 

ITA with this.  Actually anyone who receives compliments on their appearance on a regular basis should learn how to accept them gracefully without making a big deal out of it, looking either awkward or conceited, or making the complimenter feel uncomfortable.  I think the best thing the OP can teach her daughter is how to say "Thank you" politely and move on.

 

I was pretty weird-looking in middle school but blossomed a lot in my mid- to late teens.  I had no idea how to respond to compliments.  I used to say really weird things like, "No I'm not," or "It doesn't matter," or I'd totally ignore the compliment and change the subject.  One day my grandmother took me aside and told me to Just Say Thank You.  That was great advice.

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