Beauty, Brains…or Both?

Purposeful Parent Tip: Encourage and nurture ALL of the gifts for which your child has been blessed.

“She is so beautiful!” I’ve heard this comment about my daughter from the minute she was born.  The nurses in the delivery room were in awe over her golden hair that was naturally highlighted in hues of chestnut and auburn.  Even in those first few minutes of life, her big blue eyes shone brightly to everyone in the room.

The remarks about her physical appearance continued through toddler years and I always wondered if this had any impact on my son who quietly sat back while people ogled over his sister and seemingly ignored his beautiful Hershey Kiss brown eyes and eyelashes as long as my arm.  Her golden blonde hair and blue eyes were always grabbing people’s attention first.

And of course, I and her father, friends and family were also telling her how pretty she was.  My how her head must’ve swelled!  One day my sister told me about the potential for this seemingly innocuous comment to do more harm than good.  She told me that if
people only concentrate on how my daughter looks, then she may very well define her self-worth by this.  What happens if one day the looks disappear?  What if the compliments stop?  How will my daughter handle that?

By the time I’d heard this insight, my daughter was already in school.  She was doing exceptionally well and so I thought I had the perfect answer. I’ll start complimenting her on her intellect and stop focusing so much on her looks.  So words like “It’s not
enough to be pretty, you have to be smart too” began coming out of my mouth.

It was with good intention that I was trying to relay to my daughter the importance of developing her mind and not relying on good looks to get her through the challenges of life.

But take a look at my words again.  “It’s not enough.”  Not enough??  What am I saying?  In retrospect, I see that in some ways I am telling my daughter that her natural God-given gift of physical attractiveness and poise is not enough??  That she has to do more so that she will be successful?  What is success anyway and how am I to know at this stage in her life where her success will lie?

While my intentions were good, the execution was not.  Isn’t that always the case with
parenting?  You do your best to do the right thing, but somehow and sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped.

My daughter is a remarkable young girl.  She is funny, incredibly affectionate, passionate about animals and babies, athletic, and a born leader.   She enjoys school and does well.  She has the ability to draw people to her because the light in her eyes shines so brightly that people just want to be near her. She is compassionate and loving.  She’s also very insightful and intuitive and I am taken back by the
maturity of her words at times.

Recently I attended a workshop that was geared toward helping us “get out of our heads” and listen more to our own inner voices.  I wondered if my emphasis on intellectual development for my daughter was only fueling the potential for her to stay in her head instead of paying attention to that quiet voice inside.  I wondered if my parent’s same actions have led me to be the same way, struggling sometimes to hear that one voice as it is overtaken by the thousand voices in my head.

I left that workshop motivated to not only continue to work on this for myself, but to begin to help my daughter as well.  Because it’s that little voice inside that will guide her through her life long after I’m gone and her looks have faded.

 

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