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Vanity and our daughters - Page 2

post #21 of 27

well remember YOU are using the term vanity. you are seeing it in a different perspective. its about a kid trying to figure out about knowing who they are and being that. that is the age of self discovery. ur oldest is kinda getting out of that phase or at the tail end of it, your little one is entering it. 


i recall how dd when younger woudl just not get it why saying 'i am smart' was a bad thing. she heard that all the time plus she for herself decided hey i AM smart. does that mean others are dumb. no. it means she discovered she was smart and she believed it. she did it and was done with it. no more of the i am smart thing. like lynnS6's dd she also has responded i know to many situations. now she knows to say TY. 

post #22 of 27


Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

So is vanity false?  Or do they just need other people rather than their own family to think they're great?  I wish there was one simple way to get them grounded and to allow them to feel good about who they are rather than worry about what they look like.   

Well, I see two issues. The first is that kids do need people outside their family to think they're great. The Search Institute has develop a set of "developmental assets" from research that appear to help kids thrive and succeed. (Here's the list for ages 5-8, if you're interested: http://www.search-institute.org/40-developmental-assets-children-grades-k%E2%80%933). Positive relationships are key. Obviously positive family relationships are important, but relationships with other adults outside the family, and the support of the community are also key. No child is going to have everything on the list, but many of the 'assets' revolve around supportive and safe relationships at home and in the community.


The second issue is one of social graces. Kids at your daughter's age are just beginning to get social graces, but they don't have a lot of them yet. My daughter had to write a thank you note in class this week (they're talking about Thanksgiving, obviously). Here's what she wrote to her brother: "Thank you for being nice to me most of the time (even though I hate you sometimes)." Luckily ds though it was pretty funny. She may be an extreme case (last year she wrote to her teacher for teacher appreciation: "I never thought I'd learn a thing from you, but I did!"), but I don't think she's developmentally that far off.


Kids do need to be taught social graces that are appropriate to the culture/community they live in. Those include how to accept a compliment. It includes when and how it's OK to talk about the things you're good at (For my daughter, when talking to friends, "I really the Harry Potter books" is OK. "I read all the Harry Potter books this summer and I'm only in 2nd grade" is not OK). It includes learning not to praise their own looks, as that's frowned on in our culture (but it's OK to accept a compliment). They also need to learn how to thank people, think about how other people feel when they say "I'm the best reader in the class" or "I'm really pretty". They need to learn how to introduce themselves and start a conversation. They need to learn how to politely decline something they don't care for. ("Ewww gross" is not OK. "No thank  you, I don't care for any" is fine.) They need to learn how to ask someone's name when they've forgotten it. etc. etc. etc.


Some of this learning is developmental in nature (a 4 year old really has a hard time seeing why it's offensive to say "I'm the best runner!"). Much of this can be taught through modeling, helping a child think about how others might feel or interpret what they're doing, and practicing. This summer, I actively practiced with dd how she could talk about the Harry Potter books she'd read so she didn't sound like she was bragging. A lot of this takes time and effort to teach and learn. I remember my mom teaching us how to introduce our friends to her so we'd have the skill of doing that. It takes time.


So, you're right that your daughters have things to learn. But I think you might be overly worried about the vanity, and missing the bigger picture that this is developmentally expected, and that it's something your daughters probably need to work on in more than one area, not just how they look. 


post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 

LynnS6,  I'm overly worried possibly because I just don't know how to handle it right.  I find myself saying things I shouldn't, DD1 has been told by me that she's the best at this or that and that she's beautiful.  I do the same things with DD2.  I'm trying to figure out if I'm the problem.  I don't want them to have a false sense of self, that's not fair to them.  I know I've already set DD1 up a few times.  I told her she was the smartest kid around, I didn't realize she would take that seriously.  Then a test comes along and someone out scored her and she comes home mad at me.  I also don't want to hurt their self esteem.


I didn't have the best communication with my mother, she wasn't into sharing anything and she always seemed to try to pull me back down when I was feeling good.  Jr. year I didn't get homecoming princess and she threw a fit about it. 

her words "well I was going to make you a dress but obviously your friends don't like you enough".

Then Senior year I was homecoming Queen, her words,  "About time! Did you have to buy someone off?" 

Oh and if I spent time doing my hair or ironing my clothes, "you want people to think you're pretty?  sorry mija, you don't look like your cousins!"   Still trying to figure out what she meant by that one since my cousins were all BIG! 


So I feel like I'm trying to make sure I don't make them feel that bad, yet not go so far that I screw them up.  I'm begging for clear answers here.  I find myself replaying conversations to make sure I didn't say something that could hurt their feelings or make them feel like I don't think they're great.  Also all the women in my family are that way.  They're great at ripping each other apart.  Lots of jealousy and cruel treatment.  I have to talk my sister down from running my mom over with her car atleast once a month because of something she said that wasn't kind. 


I went through the link you suggested, I honestly feel I just have a lot of work to do.  It's really hard to change all your learned behaviors and while I'm changing I hope I don't slip up. 

post #24 of 27

you know something. i have read a lot of your posts and you have to let this fear go. it is this fear that is making a" mountain out of a molehill". how are you going to do that? i dont know. you have to find something that works for you.


please please please mama you are NOT your mom. hello. you make your friends cringe. your dd's have choice, they are allowed to swear AND make mudpools, AND you can have a conversation with your 8 year old that rivals adults. you sound like you are connected to your kids. you dont sound like a mother whom kids want to run down while driving a car.


since this you feel can make things worse i would totally let it go. totally. i mean now u know your oldest dd might take things literally. are you saying you dont have the right yourself as a mother to give her a compliment?!!! I am my dd's best cheerleader. i tell her with explanation why she is beautiful, she is smart, she is mean, she has a good heart, she is selfish....  

you sound like a mom who already has an established relationship with her dds. like my dd told me 'mom most of the time you are the best mom in the world, but sometimes you really suck." i could say the same about my mother. my parents loved us. there is no doubt about that. but they sucked too at times. sometimes BIG times. it was easy for me to forgive them AND be close to them because no matter what - i KNEW they loved us and i felt that. 


for me  the parts of parenthood that turn me into a monster - i completely let go. i have learnt from my dd to just leave the scene. and we both understand each other when that happens. its because we dotn want to say something since words are the worst capital punishment. 


i hope you realise you ARE a good parent AND you are trying. and that your dds loves who you are. once in a while you make a transgression, they are apt to forgive like i did.


a couple of other things. remember their idea of you as a parent really can have nothing to do with u. i recall i held this belief about my mom. it was only after i had my dd did i realise it was my head trip. for all these long years i blamed my mom for something when she didnt mean to be that way. i just misinterpreted her action. the same could be true about dd. like she told me 'mama you are the one thing that truly understands me and respects me. so when you hurt me its far worse than anyone else can hurt me." mind you though her hurt is not truly related to what i say or how i say it. its more about the state she is in at that time. what might hurt her at one time, might be nothing at another. 


but i have always spoken to her and tried to show her the world thru other people's shoes. dont take everything at face value. did they really mean that or were they just caught up in their thing and reacting. and so along those lines i have told her she has to give me the chance to blow up. i know. i know i shouldnt - but she has to. its human nature. i have to also respect that for her me blowing up is just like capital punishment. there are times she tells me ma just slap me to get it over with. we have talked about how the good and the bad resides in every person. just like you have to accept that i can go wrong, you also have to accept just cause Charles ng killed so many, it doesnt mean he doesnt have softness of heart. 


so its complicated. a clear answer? i wish it was easy to find. if anything perhaps u r trying too hard.



Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

I honestly feel I just have a lot of work to do.  It's really hard to change all your learned behaviors and while I'm changing I hope I don't slip up. 

i hope you know mama you are not alone here. i am in the same boat as you and i suspect many others are too. when you are a connected mother its ok to slip up sometimes. 


post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thank you Meemee.

post #26 of 27


Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

LynnS6,  I'm overly worried possibly because I just don't know how to handle it right.  I find myself saying things I shouldn't, DD1 has been told by me that she's the best at this or that and that she's beautiful.  I do the same things with DD2.  I'm trying to figure out if I'm the problem.  I don't want them to have a false sense of self, that's not fair to them.  I know I've already set DD1 up a few times.  I told her she was the smartest kid around, I didn't realize she would take that seriously.  Then a test comes along and someone out scored her and she comes home mad at me.  I also don't want to hurt their self esteem.




I went through the link you suggested, I honestly feel I just have a lot of work to do.  It's really hard to change all your learned behaviors and while I'm changing I hope I don't slip up

hug2.gif One of my mother's phrases is: "Do your best, even the angels can do no more." It sounds like you're setting yourself an impossibly high standards. You can't parent without screwing up.


As meemee said, you're not your mother. You're raising your children the best you can. If your children know that they're loved and valued, and you're willing to apologize when you've screwed up, it'll be OK. Children are resilient, as long as they have a firm base. YOU didn't have a firm base because your mother kept on pulling the ground out from under you. You're not doing that to your daughters. The very fact that you're worried about this shows that you're  different from your mom.


My parents were not perfect by any means. We got yelled at. My parents spanked my older sibs. Sometimes they didn't pay enough attention to us because they were too busy and too stressed. I remember I really wanted to sign up for softball one summer. My mom got to the signup site and we turned around and left because she didn't want to wait in line that long! They didn't always come to our school sports events. They made mistakes. But you know what? They didn't ruin us either.  Why? Because we knew we were loved and respected. They treated us with decency. They could have apologized more often, but we all (and there are 5 of us) have a decent relationship with them. (OK, we do have to tell our mom every once in awhile that she's not being reasonable. I wish they'd move into an assisted living facility because at 83 and 87, they're not getting any younger, and I worry about my dad having to do all the housework. My mom 'can't' because she's blind. And she won't learn to help herself. She LIKES being served. It drives me bananas. But I still love her.)


You can't prevent yourself from making mistakes. You can't keep your children from all heartache, even if you were perfect. So, with the "smartest kid around" you learned that kids under 10 take things literally. You learned that you probably should phrase it like "I think you're really smart." or "You have a lot of talent for reading."  Your daughter learned that while mom thinks I'm the smartest kid around, her opinion may not match reality. She learned that the sun still comes up tomorrow when you don't get the highest grade. She learned that her mom thinks highly of her. If I had to choose between my mom thinking I'm smarter than I am and my mom not praising me, I'd choose the former. What about you?


If you haven't already read "How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen" by Faber & Mazlish, now would be a good time. I really like Dan Siegel's work on Mindfulness as well: Parenting from the Inside Out It discusses the impact that our own life stories affects our parenting.  I'm really getting a lot out of his book "Whole Brain Child" as well.


Maybe you just need to make some big cards that say "I'm doing the best I can" and "I am not my mother" and paste them on your mirror to see!

post #27 of 27

Here's my take on this topic, and it stems from some personal growth in the the last year, so, take it for what it's worth.


It's okay to be you.  And being you INCLUDES being pretty, smart, athletic, witty, or any other positive attribute, be it regularly applied to girls and not boys...or not.  It isn't good to downplay your strengths.  It's not good to flaunt them, or make others feel upstaged, but it's good to be you.  And to be comfortable in your own awesomeness.


Because, you have a lot to offer the world.  And if you are smart, you should know that about yourself, and relate to the world that way.  It took me a long, long, long time, and a lot of frustrated relationships and failed conversations, to realize that I, apparently, am a bit smarter than the average bear.  And that's okay.  There's nothing wrong with me, and I don't have to hold back.  I can offer a lot to the world the way I was made.  I don't have to play dumb, I don't have to throw the game...but I do probably have a responsibility to be a leader, and to help others along.


So what if your dd is good-looking.  Wonderful.  People who are good looking often have a leg up in life.  Others tend to respond to them better.  The things I would teach are NOT "beauty is only skin deep" and "quit looking at yourself in the mirror", but "because of your blessing, you have the responsibility of being kind to girls who aren't so great looking.  You have the responsibility to keep the snobs off their case.  You've been blessed, and you need to know it." 


And, here's another thought.  We have ALL been given things that are special and unique to us.  But most of us, women especially, go around faking.  We hide the beauty inside.  Be it the beauty outside, be it our brains, or our ideas, or whatever.  We don't have the confidence to be what we are.  We don't know how to handle what we have. 


Knowing that 1.) ALL of who we are is a gift. 2.) Sometimes gifts can be taken away. and 3.) Embrace what you have and use it to its fullest changes a lot. 


If your dd is drop dead gorgeous, how is she going to USE it?  Is she going to bless the world with modest beauty?  Is she going to use it to get her self-esteem?  Is she going to use it to use boys?  OR is she going to be uncertain that she IS pretty, or WHAT she should do about it?


I'd rather my dd walk around with her head high and KNOW that she's gorgeous, and be kinder to those who aren't, to modestly turn her head when the boys gape, and to leave onlookers with a feeling of "now...that's beauty"...like an amazing sunset. 


And you know what?  The joy she reaps by her kindness and her security in who she is at the moment and her confidence in using the gifts she has will create that deep beauty and character we are all so concerned about. 


It translates to you.  Who ARE you.  Really.  Deep down.  What have you ALWAYS loved, but maybe forgotten?  What is really important to you.  Does your nose still turn up in that cute way it did when you were 5?  Are your eyes still your best asset?  Do your ears still stick out more than you like?  Are you a bit flighty or short tempered?  Sometimes, most times I think, it is more important to just recognize what we ARE, and that it is US.  And that...well, it's okay.  After you know who you are, you can work with it.  I know that I don't wake up well.  I don't have to keep up this guilt I have that I'm not a June Cleaver breakfast maker with perfect hair at 5am.  I'm not that.  But, I can make some awesome cookies...and I can pull a great all nighter.  What I have to offer the world is different than June Cleaver...but it's every bit as good.  And I don't intend to change.


What have you learned from your experiences as a child?  Who are you now?  Stop trying to change, and just BE yourself fully.  You already are full of who you are...don't be afraid to embrace it.  Don't be afraid to know that you ARE awesome.  You ARE a good Mama.  And what you have to offer the world...and your daughters...is every bit as good.




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