So I’m a new mom, and I’m beginning to feel like I tell my four-month-old that she’s beautiful a thousand times a day. I just can’t help myself, people! One look at her, and I melt. But, she’s already so much more than that. I meet in her the brightest and kindest eyes I’ve ever seen. She’s such a peaceful baby with the friendliest temperament. She is full of joy, light, and life. She is my treasure.
Do I tell her those things just as often?
No matter what the age, “You are so beautiful!” is one of our favorite compliments to give and to receive as women. This praise, in and of itself, is not wrong; the desire to be deemed beautiful resides in the heart of every girl. Here’s what I’m learning though: We are constantly rewarding qualities and characteristics with our words. Every single day, we reinforce the value of what we affirm— not just to ourselves, but also to our sweet daughters.
There’s nothing wrong with affirming our daughters in their beauty, but we should never allow beauty, brains or any other form of brilliance to take precedence over their character and the person they are becoming. As parents, we must thoughtfully dress every word that leaves our lips because those tiny eyes and ears are always watching, listening, and absorbing. They are largely influenced by us— what we teach them, how we care for them, and how we speak to them.
Even still, they are not immune to the values of society. The world around them permanently shouts, “be beautiful,” “be admired,” “be desired.” Thus, we must voice all the louder, “be caring,” “be kind,” “be courageous.” Girls need to know who they are beyond their physical attributes or genetic capabilities.
So if our first inclination is to tell our daughters that they’re beautiful, (because, oh, they are BEAUTIFUL!), then let’s be mindful in affirming their more excellent and praiseworthy qualities, too. When she’s patient—tell her. When she’s helpful—tell her. When she’s forgiving—tell her.
At no time should we deliberately downplay our child’s abilities or loveliness. After all, God is the giver of all gifts and the creator of everything beautiful—your child’s unique design is so worth celebrating! (Moreover, it is right to legitimize what your child does well). But, gifted and talented should never be permitted to outshine godly and faithful. Gifted and talented should never define her.
With a resounding YES, tell your ‘lil miss that she’s lovely and radiant and gifted; confirming these truths will meet a desire in her that is uniquely feminine. But, don’t stop there. Also tell her that she’s funny—that she’s creative—and that she’s bright! Most importantly though, tell her that she’s loved.
By and large, a child who is truly loved as herself does not need to see herself as positive or negative. She does not need to find her worth in her appearance or her performance. Her joy does not hinge on the approval of others, and her identity is secure because she knows that she is a valued and loved daughter, treasured and accepted regardless. A loved self will always be stronger, braver, happier, and more confident than a positive one.
It comes down to this, moms: What do we wish to instill in our daughters? What do we want them to value most about themselves? And what will we regularly reward with our words? We know what culture says matters—but what will we say “matters”?
May we teach our daughters that their compassion matters, that their commitment matters, their faith, joy, virtue, integrity, and generosity matter. May we take a hard look at our speech and all that we’re reinforcing to the little women we know and love so dearly and may we repeatedly tell our kids of all ages and stages that no matter what they do, they will be loved. So loved. So wanted. So welcome in our world.
10 Phrases To Reinforce Your Daughter’s Character:
- I love how you put others first / you love your friends well.
- You are worth so much to me / I value you / I enjoy you.
- You have great dreams /ideas / purpose.
- You are unique / special / talented.
- You are a great big / little sister.
- I love how you are so truthful.
- I love your positive attitude.
- I have confidence in you.
- You are a great leader.
- You encourage me.