Why I Tell My Daughter She Is Pretty Every Day

Self esteem In Girls I have a beautiful little nine-year-old girl. She has gigantic, warm, melty-chocolate eyes and waist-length curly hair and a beautiful smile and the sort of skin poets write sonnets about. She is a cutie pie, a doll baby, and a pretty little thing, and I tell her this daily. I call her beauty and pretty girl and tell her she looks gorgeous.

Now, I know what you are thinking. What sort of self-proclaimed radical feminist actually focuses on physical beauty and dares to compliment her kid on her outward appearance? I do. Because even though I spend a huge part of my day complimenting her on her intellect, her curiosity, her kindness, and her gigantic, empathetic, caring, heart, I also tell her she is pretty.

Raising my kids, I want them to grow up to care about others, to do their best to contribute to the world and to try and make it a better place. I ask them to be polite, to be kind to others, to contemplate how their actions affect other people, and to focus on doing everything they can to enrich their little brains through intellectual pursuits and school work. We discuss politics, and social issues, and what it means to be a good person, a good friend, and a good listener.

But I tell my kids they are pretty, and attractive, and cute, and look nice all the time too. Because I have no interest in them growing up to be teenagers and adults who try and prove this fact to themselves by engaging in relationships with others because they are trying to fill some void due to a lack of self-esteem based on their physical appearance. And I would tell my kids they are pretty even if they weren’t.

Greasy hair, raging bouts of acne, weighing too much or too little based on whatever arbitrary societal or BMI suggestions, wearing the wrong brand of sneakers or the wrong brand of jeans, or being too short or too tall or with a mouthful of braces – my kid, my daughter especially, will have so many encounters with the world where she is made to feel less than pretty.

She will be bullied, and teased, and made to feel less than no matter how she looks. And when she gets older, she will meet potential romantic partners who will compliment her on how she looks, what she is wearing, the cut of her dress, or the shade of her lipstick. I want her to enter into these romantic encounters with years and years of the relentless reminders from her father and me that she is beautiful, inside and out.

I want this to carry her when she is less than pretty, when she is having a bad hair day or gains weight or gets old and see the first few lines crease her eyes from too many laughs and too many tears throughout the years. I want her to take this with her when she tries on bathing suits in cramped dressing rooms with unflattering lighting and when she accepts awards on stages and when she gets her first mammogram, standing topless in a cold room and waiting for the technician to help her position her breast between cold, metal plates.

My daughter is smart, and kind, and good, and she is pretty. No matter how many times she feels less than beautiful, no matter how she ages throughout the years, no matter how many times the media, the world, and society tell her that she isn’t, and even the most physically beautiful people in the world feel this way, I want her to remember that there is someone out there who will always and forever find her pretty until she is nothing but bones in the ground.

I want her to always know that no matter what, she is smart and kind and good and beautiful. And when she goes out in this great big world, when she meets people for the first time, when she dates people and applies for jobs and travels the earth, and when someone tells her she is pretty, I want her to be happy to hear it. Not because she needs to, but because she already knows she is.

(Image: Serov/shutterstock)

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    • Bethany Ramos

      This is such a beautiful post!!! My mom never commented on my appearance, and I have had issues with an eating disorder and self esteem. SOMEONE has to be in your corner and make you feel attractive and valuable. Thankfully, my husband did that for me.

      • Valerie

        You are so so so pretty.

      • Bethany Ramos

        I love youuuu! You are the prettiest <3

      • Valerie

        No way- youuuu are.
        ::cue everyone else barfing….and Socks making a lesbian joke::

      • Butt Trophy Recipient

        Sometimes, a lesbian joke isn’t necessary

      • Valerie

        I knew it. You have a terminal illness.

      • Butt Trophy Recipient

        Which can only be cured by watching you and Beth together

      • Valerie

        Or by up-voting all of my comments. It will just make you feel good inside.

      • Tinyfaeri

        I think you’re purty! :) And I agree. My parents ignored my looks entirely, and I don’t think it was all that beneficial. They weren’t all that big on praise in general now that I think about it, and while it certainly kept any ego I might have had in check, it also made it seem like nothing was ever enough. Balance is a good thing!

      • Bethany Ramos

        Thank you!! You are so sweet :)

      • Tinyfaeri

        Well I am a bit swirly… :)

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie

        You’re gorgeous, Bethany :)

      • Bethany Ramos

        Thank you! So are you! :)

    • Kay_Sue

      Very well said.

    • journalgal

      Love this. I often wonder if I should be telling my daughter she is beautiful as often as I do (and I know I’m biased, but she’s gorgeous), and this affirms for me that what I’m doing is OK. I want her to know her worth comes from so much more than her face and body, but I want her to feel good about her appearance too.

    • LiteBrite

      As someone with a mother who could be overly critical, I will say that there are worse things you can tell your daughter than “You’re pretty.”

      And I wish you were my mom. :)

      • Tinyfaeri

        I’ll second this!

    • Maria Guido

      I love this.

    • Jessica

      I love that your compliments to your kids are a balance of personality and physical. Sounds like your daughter will grow up with a great foundation for good self esteem!

    • Valerie

      This is very very sweet. And I can tell you firsthand that it works. :-) My parents told me daily as a kid/teen that I was the most beautiful girl in the world. I can remember being 9 or 10 years old and literally believing that there was no one prettier than I was. I did not ever say that out loud nor did I think this made me better than anyone else- it just gave me confidence. Which in turn, led me to pursue things I may not have otherwise because I did not mind if people saw me- I sang, figure skated, played soccer, played piano and ran for student council posts every year. I had shyness in me and I would get nervous with people watching me but it was never because I doubted my appearance. Because I had no questions about whether I was pretty, I was free to focus and obsess on other things. Like the recital piece I was preparing for piano. Or the drills I was trying to learn for soccer. My mind was not cluttered with that icky brand of self-doubt that plagues so many young girls about how they look. My parents and the way they pumped me up literally made it a non-issue for me. I am forever grateful and I am the same way with Claire. I tell her all the time that she is stunning and lovely and that she is the prettiest of any little girl ever. I can see that sparkle in her eyes that I had in mine and I know it is the right thing to say.

      • Kendra

        This is interesting for me to read, because I struggle with “the line”. I grew up with a girl who did think that she was better than everyone, and she also only valued her looks because that was all she was complimented on growing up. I want my daughter to have self-esteem and feel perfect as she is, but I don’t want her to have an ego or be self-centered. Why is being a parent so hard!? Everything you do or don’t say has an effect.

      • Valerie

        I guess its a crapshoot. :-)

      • Jessica

        I think the way the author is complimenting her daughter on looks AND personality/brains is key. I also know a lot of grown women who still value their looks above all else (and yes, think they are better than everyone), and I can’t help but think that’s all that was commented on growing up. I just hope they never pass the same values on to daughters of their own!

      • Valerie

        Yeah, my parents def touched on topics other than my cuteness. Lol. They were awesome all-around. They always made me feel smart, funny AND pretty. :-)

      • Kendra

        That’s kind of what I’m thinking. If you balance out complimenting all areas, they will be more well-rounded. I guess my daughter will be known as “Experiment A”

    • Julia Sonenshein

      Love this love this love this.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      My mom, a feminist, never ever commented on my looks unless it was a special occasion where I needed to dress up. And then she told me I looked really nice, not beautiful. And my dad said nothing. And my friends and other family never commented one way or another.
      Now, on one hand, I was remarkably unpreoccupied with my appearance compared to other girls. On the other, the belief a boy could ever like me was a foreign concept. It made flirting impossible, and other girls’ beauty was not beneath my notice so I felt like they had something I lacked.
      Actually, to this day I have a hard time seeing myself, I don’t know, physically. I know who I am as a person, and arrived there with more confidence than a lot of other women I know. But I feel disconnected from my looks in many ways.
      I wouldn’t have minded some positive reenforcement to view myself as physically beautiful or at least pretty. I hear cute a lot, but that’s almost always about my personality so I don’t know.
      Your daughter definitely deserves to hear she’s beautiful. In combination with other things, it’s important.

      • Andrea

        Is that you on that picture? If it is, and if it helps, I think you are very pretty.

      • JadePanda

        This was my upbringing as well. In my case, my mom never said anything positive about my appearance. My achievements, grades, etc. were applauded, but the only statements about how I looked was if something was “wrong” (your hair is so limp today, you look swollen, etc.)

        She would comment on how pretty my friend was, or how gorgeous an actress looked, which only made her silence more painful. I couldn’t argue that she didn’t care about how people looked, because she clearly did.

        The effect it had on me, once I got past the bizarre idea of someone finding me attractive, was to fall desperately for any boy who told me I was beautiful. I needed to hear it, because growing up I never had any evidence to support my hope that I was in anyway desirable.

        Now as an adult, I understand that my mom thought she was doing the right thing. She wanted to downplay the value of beauty so that I would focus on my studies rather than boys. Obviously, that had the opposite effect…

        I think what Eve is doing is perfect; it’s what I would have wanted for myself as a young girl.

      • Jessifer

        It’s incredibly difficult to find a balance. On the one hand, I’m glad I was not just perceived as a “pretty girl”, since that is a terrible burden to carry. But on the other hand, even smart and talented girls need to feel like they are beautiful on the outside, as well as the inside. You can be the smartest person in the room but if you are not comfortable with your own body, you may lack the confidence to achieve your full potential.

      • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

        I thought I was the only one who felt completely disconnected from my physical appearance. My sister is very obsessed with hers so I don’t think it came from my parents, aside from the fact that my mom seemed completely disconnected from her appearance as well. She just did not care and told me that it is what is on the inside that counts. Don’t judge a book by the cover and all that. I am also not interested in aesthetics of most things. I prefer to function on functionality. Very few people seem to understand this. It is so nice to hear somebody else communicate it so eloquently.

    • Megan Zander

      Emailing you my application for adult adoption.

    • SunnyD847

      I always tell my girls they are pretty, or that their hair looks nice, or I Iike their outfits or something before they head out the door each morning. I feel like it’s a little immunization against all the negative BS they will encounter during 6+ hours in middle school.

      • KarenMS

        Middle school is terrible. I’m sure this helps your girls more than you can imagine.

    • Alex Lee

      We’ve nicknamed our daughter “The Cuteness” and she’s really taken to it, body and soul. Even before she reached 8 years of age, she’s always had this confident independence regarding the world around her. Sure, there are times where she clutches me tight for reassurance, but more-often, she’s out in the spotlight wearing a purple tutu with leggings and a tiger-stripe hoodie.

      We haven’t reached makeup yet (aside from Hallowe’en) and I can’t imagine her NOT being the aggressor when it comes to dating.

      After reading this, I think I’ll write her another “Cardboard Love” note. Maybe we’ll hula dance together tonight, or just crack ourselves up watching “Outrageous Acts of Science”.

    • dragonflyrunner

      Awesome. I tell my five-year-old daughter that she is pretty or beautiful every single day. I also tell her that she is smart, funny, and creative. She is very self-confident. LOL.

      I also tell my 12-year-old son that he is handsome and good-looking. I also tell him that he is smart, friendly, and a great big brother.

      I wish someone had told me at his type of stuff when I was a kid. I always tried to be the best at everything and get my parents attention, but I never did. So I’m trying to be different than my parents, and hopefully, this will shelter my kiddos from my issues as an adult.

      Great article, Eve. Thank you.

      • JadePanda

        Yes, boys need this as well.

    • Jessifer

      I love this article. When I was a child, all I ever heard was how smart I was. No one ever talked about me being “pretty” or “beautiful”. The mere omission of this descriptor later led me to believe that perhaps I wasn’t, maybe I was just “smart” and that was all there was to me. It’s a horrible feeling that I still carry to this day.

      • Ddaisy

        When I was in grade 7, we did that thing where everyone writes their name on a piece of paper and passes it around, and everyone has to write one nice thing about every other person.

        Out of 28 kids in the class, 17 wrote “smart” on my paper. I am proud of being smart, but I can get that from my report card. What really made my day is that one of the popular girls wrote that she liked my hair clips.

      • SA

        Aw. :)

      • thebadlydrawnfox

        My class did the same thing when I was 13. Three or four people – my friends – said I was loyal or kind. EVERYONE ELSE in a thirty-something class wrote that I was smart or good at school work. I sort of believed that was all I was, and I became obsessed with doing well. Because if the only thing of note about me is my brain, then it had better be fantastic. I was crushed every time I got less than an A+.

        That experience really stuck with me, and I think yours stuck with you too.

        What Eve is doing is perfect: she is telling her daughter that she is a full and well rounded person.

      • Jessica

        It’s funny how omissions sometimes speak to us more than what is actually said.

    • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie

      I don’t remember any specific time my parents told me I was pretty or smart or talented when I was a kid, but I know they did. Some shitty friends in grades 5-8 led to a few self-esteem issues that still exist today, so sometimes I find it odd if people think I’m pretty or whatever (I’m getting better, though!).

      It’s also really nice to hear my mom tell me I’m pretty or whatever as an adult, too. :)

      • Tinyfaeri

        Well I’m odd, but I also think you’re pretty!

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie

        Aw, thanks :)
        And odd people are awesome! I’m fairly odd myself ;)

      • Tinyfaeri

        Odd people rock. :-D

    • G.E. Phillips

      Aw, Eve. I love this. If we don’t build our kids up, who will? Let my biggest crime as a parent be that I told Face how fucking handsome he is about 40 times a day.

    • K.

      Nothing breaks my heart more, as a teacher, to watch young women with so much talent and promise–HS-aged students who are insightful writers and thoughtful researchers and talented athletes, performers, and leaders–feel that their accomplishments matter less than their appearance. My students come in all shapes and sizes, but they have all been spectacular and it disturbs me when it’s apparent that they feel like they have to apologize or downplay how spectacular they are because they aren’t packaged like the media image of what it means to be successful and female.

      So I say that it IS important to tell your daughters they are unconditionally beautiful. I think that my mother, in her old-school style feminism, wanted to teach me that looks don’t matter. My feminism 2.0 says the message isn’t that looks don’t matter; it’s that you should own your looks.

      I mean, Kate Upton: The Media Creation is one thing, but I’d strive for a Jane Goodall sort of beauty.

      • jane

        Jane Goodall sort of beauty. YES YES YES! The kind of beautiful that is more than “wow, what a nice face” but “wow, I’m sure interested in what that face has to say.”

        Now, to try to convey that to my daughter…

    • Mystik Spiral

      My mom was, and still is, very critical. For me, she was always making comments about my weight. Recently, I was having dinner with my mom and my oldest nieces and she made a comment to the 9-year-old about how she needed to wash her hair. My niece nearly blew up, and said “Grandma, why do you ALWAYS have to make comments about my hair?!?”. It kinda broke my heart. But if any little girl is strong enough to let grandma criticisms roll off her back, it’s this one. :)

      • itpainsme2say

        I try to do this with my mom but her lack of understanding about what she is doing breaks my heart even more.

      • noodlestein

        Yeah, it is heartbreaking. My mom screwed me up so much about my weight (I was, and still am overweight) that it has impacted my ability to form relationships with the opposite sex, becuase I feel hideous. And if *I* feel that way, all guys must, right? Of course I know the answer is NO, but since I feel that way, I send out all the wrong signals and never meet anyone. :(
        The sad thing is that she was a great mom in every other way, but didn’t realize what her consant comments about my weight were doing to me, because her mother had done it to her, too. If I ever have children (fingers crossed!), I will NEVER EVER lay that on them!

      • Mystik Spiral

        Wow, are we sisters? Haha. Yeah, my mom is a good, even great, mom, but the things that stick with me… Like her telling me once “You’re getting fat…ter.”. Or buying me a pair of pants I really wanted then not giving them to me until I lost 5 pounds. Yikes. I totally feel your pain as far as relationships go. I’m in a healthy relationship now with a great guy, but because I’m still overweight (I don’t remember a time when I *wasn’t*), I still feel sometimes like he’s doing me some kind of favor for being with me, and that I owe him for it. Ugh!!

      • noodlestein

        YAAAASSS. We must be sisters! One time I told her, “I’m not going to make a resolution to lose weight this New Years, but one to feel better about myself.” She says, in reply to that, “You could stand to lose a few pounds, though.” !!! I was 16. Rough! Glad you’ve found someone; it gives me hope that there IS hope!

    • Ddaisy

      When I was growing up, the focus was always on my brain, my smarts, my grades, to the extent that I believed I shouldn’t ever try to be pretty, as if it would somehow diminish my inner qualities if I dared to straighten my hair or pierce my ears.

      As an adult, I now love dressing up fancy, and even though it’s not as important to be pretty as it is to be smart or kind, both kinds of compliments will put just as big a smile on my face. I always tell my students that they are smart, hard-working, AND adorable.

    • itpainsme2say

      Just remember to never stop because while my dad has never stopped calling me his “pretty girl” I grew up to hate him and therefor want to roll my eyes every time he says it. But on the other side my mother stopped as soon as I hit puberty and then got worse about it when i stopped playing sports and of course I gained a few. She never says it in words anymore but gives me “The Look” but I recently found out that my grandmother did the same thing to them so I hope to do what your doing and not let this weight shaming bleed into another generation.

      • Jessica

        Why did you grow up to hate your dad?

      • itpainsme2say

        Well he’s kind of a dick and it really gets hard to love someone when every time you state your opinion or really just answer a question he always says ‘why does she have an attitude?”(he always poses this question as if I’m not in the room), he wants everything to be his way and can’t take a joke but expects us to get his and points out how he was good at certain things when he was our age(this was a problem when I got an inferior math SAT). The worst part was when I realized that a nickname he had for my mom “bimboette” was basically a way to call my mom stupid every day (i love my mom even after all the stuff she does and says because she honesty was just raised to think like that).

    • Ana

      This is very sweet and well written. You just have the one daughter among a few boys right? I would just add that mothers of 2 or more girls should make sure they balance the prettiness compliments. My mother was always raving about how my little sister “could be a model”, with her long legs, stick-thin body, pouty lips and thick blonde hair. I asked her once “What about me?” and she said “Well….you’re…normal.” and it broke my heart. She did compliment my looks sometimes, but I always felt compared to my “model” sister. There was a different tone of voice when she complimented us that was obvious even to a little kid.

      I tell my nearly-two-year old that she is SO cute and SO pretty every day, but it mostly just falls out of my mouth when I look at her because she is gorgeous. I always tell her how smart and sweet she is too. She is starting to get a proud little smile when she knows I am complimenting her, whichever attribute it is for.

    • Katherine Handcock

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling your daughter she’s pretty (or your son he’s handsome) as long as it’s not the only thing they hear. I think the reason people get concerned about it for girls is because girls are likely to hear over and over and over about their beauty (or, sometimes, lack thereof) but not about all their other attributes, while boys also get told they’re strong, brave, smart, etc.

      On the other hand, once girls (and boys) are in their tweens or teens, I also think it’s important to validate their feelings about their appearance. That doesn’t mean you tell them, “Yep, you’re an ugly sucker!” But I do think parents need to acknowledge that kids at that age feel like they don’t even recognize themselves in the mirror, and like they will NEVER be out of the awkward stage.

      • cabinfever

        Yeah, “my mom thinks I’m pretty/handsome” definitely starts to lose traction around that age. I think the best we can do is prepare them for some of the external pressures they’re going to feel, talk to them about advertising, the beauty industry, etc., and hope that they can think critically about those images and messages. The really tough part is criticism and judgment from peers.. I don’t have a plan for that.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      I thought I told you people, don’t ever tell your kids they’re smart. They’ll start believing you and stop studying.

      • Tinyfaeri

        That’s actually true! You’re supposed to praise the work, not the brains for a variety of psych-type reasons. I still whisper it behind her back, though.

      • brebay

        So true. Kids who are told they’re smart instead of something like “good, you worked really hard on that” have a fear of failure, of doing poorly and losing their identity as a “smart kid.” If you praise the work, they’ll know they can always succeed if they work at it.

      • Emil

        This is a concern I have about labeling kids “gifted”

      • Spiderpigmom

        When I was growing up, both my parents kept telling me I was intelligent (no specifics were given, just that I was “intelligent”); on the other hand they yelled at me each time I was doing anything wrong (which was, actually, doing anything they had not expressedly asked me to do). As a result, I stopped doing anything at all (either curricular or extra-curricular) rather than do something and disprove the idea that I was “intelligent”, which was the only compliment either of them ever paid me. As a young adult, the finding that I wasn’t particularly smart but at most in the higher average was *huge* relief; I felt like I could stop being a fraud and that I had at last the permission of being dumb enough to make mistakes.

        I was never told that I was pretty as a kid and my father kept commenting that I was fat (which, looking back at childhood pictures, I was not) and I felt gross beyond words. But I don’t think their telling me I was pretty would have made things better; just like being “intelligent”, it was something I had no control on anyway. My feeling the ugliest kid ever had much more to do with being emotionally (and sometimes physically) abused than with not being told I looked good.

    • Jessica

      This paragraph gave me chills:

      My daughter is smart, and kind, and good, and she is pretty. No matter how many times she feels less than beautiful, no matter how she ages throughout the years, no matter how many times the media, the world, and society tell her that she isn’t, and even the most physically beautiful people in the world feel this way, I want her to remember that there is someone out there who will always and forever find her pretty until she is nothing but bones in the ground.

      Eve, your writing amazes me time and again!

    • Kitsune

      My parents, well my dad and my stepmother, were always really great at complimenting my sister and I, about our looks and talents. It did help with confidence for both of us, including helping me weather the awful things my mother would invariably say about me.

    • cabinfever

      There certainly seem to be better and worse ways to deliver this message. Some of the worse ways to tell a girl she’s pretty, from reading the comments:
      - make it conditional, stop saying it when appearance changes
      - compare her looks to those of others, i.e. siblings
      - tell her she should model, reinforcing a narrow definition of what’s considered attractive

      It’s tough! I tell my daughters they’re pretty, funny, smart, kind… but at the same time, I don’t want to be the one defining their personalities. I’m very conscious of the fact that the messages kids get from their parents can really influence how they see themselves, so I’m having trouble figuring out where to draw the line between encouraging them and pigeonholing them.

    • SA

      YAY! Love this. I am so tired of the how to compliment your kid appropriately articles. I tell my 19 month old every day how beautiful, funny, and smart she is. I tell her how proud I am of her. I read something the other day that you shouldn’t tell your child they are smart, but rather compliment their effort. If my kid does something that I think is smart I’m going to friggin’ tell her that. As parents we are supposed to lift them up and let them know that no matter what someone always believes these things about them.

      On a downside of that I put a headband on my kid the other day and showed her and said “ooooh PRETTY”….now she walks around pointing to her head saying “Need Pretty”…..got to work on the pretty as you are message. :)

    • Kelly

      I’m glad you do that. I always tell little girls they’re pretty and I don’t care if people think it’s shallow.

      I was that little girl who never heard she was pretty. It hurts. I knew I was intelligent because of school but by the time I hit puberty, I had already accepted that I was butt ugly and no one would ever be attracted to me physically. There’s no reason for any human being to feel that way, especially a child.

    • brebay

      I think they key is to mix it in with other things. Beauty is an asset, but it fades, and if too much of your value is tied up in it, aging can be an even more difficult process.

    • RevBex

      My mom said I was pretty, occasionally, though I was in all objectivity a homely child. My dad said it more often, and at the oddest times – when combing my hair for lice (my scalp itches just thinking it) he said how lovely my hair was, how soft and what a nice color. I was just remembering today, as I look like absolute hell (sick kids, pantry moth infestation, dinner party with my boss tonight, houseguests this weekend), that one of the last things my mostly undemonstrative grandfather told me, 7 years ago, when I looked similarly awful, “motherhood agrees with you, you look absolutely beautiful.”
      I am usually unselfconscious about my looks, maybe because the people in my life who mattered thought I look great, but didn’t make it a major facet of my personality. I still only measure myself by my husband and kids’ opinions, they think I’m beautiful; and I do good work, I am kind and smart and funny. I’ve recently been on medication that causes me to gain some weight; it’s a struggle to remember that I am still beautiful me inside here. I’ve colored my hair a rich cherry-coke red, bought new lipstick and shoes, to remind myself.
      For my girls, who are honestly gorgeous, I tell them often that they are beautiful; and also smart, kind, and strong. Their dad does the same. My oldest is in middle school, at the time of being conscious of straggly teeth and bulky thighs, and it is hopeful to see how happy she is picking out an Easter dress or bathing suit. The only neurosis I’ve passed down is my hatred of my giant eyebrows, which she inherited (I’ve never mentioned them to her, but she heard my griping about mine and tried to trim hers herself). If she’s happy with 97% of her body like I am, I’ll feel successful!

    • arielmarie

      I had a classmate that said “I believe it’s my job as a parent to put as many positive comments in my child’s self esteem bank as I can before he becomes and teenager and it starts getting filled with negative ones.”

    • Jessica

      “Because I have no interest in them growing up to be teenagers and adults
      who try and prove this fact to themselves by engaging in relationships
      with others because they are trying to fill some void due to a lack of
      self-esteem based on their physical appearance.”

      Growing up I was told the opposite of a lot of those compliments by various family members (not my mom.) And even had an aunt that would tell anyone that dared compliment me in a very loud voice not to say anything for fear my “head couldn’t get any bigger.”

      Literally all it took was someone to tell me I was pretty and I was hooked. I had problems seeking attention. I needed so much attention that it was hard for one person to be able to provide that for me. It also seemed impossible that the compliment-ers could be genuine.

      Junior college was the best experience I ever had. I was able to move away from home and “blossom” on my own with just a close friend. That’s where I started to re-define my value and the people that deserved room in my life. I also learned to cultivate self-esteem and grew into a much healthier person.

      For my own daughter, I never want her to have to grow up the way I did. We try to compliment her in every conceivable way.

    • AnnH

      As someone who grew up in a house of constant verbal abuse (my mother’s nickname for me was “The Pachyderm”/”The Elephant”, and my dad once called me a sl*t for dying my hair auburn instead of my black natural color ; they also used to say noone would ever love me), I can’t praise you enough for this. There is no way telling your girl she is beautiful can hurt her, as long as it’s not the only compliment you pay her, like other commenters pointed out. If parents don’t show their unconditional love to their kids, who will ?

      • Allyson_et_al

        I want to travel back to your childhood, smack your parents, and give you a hug.

    • Shanzie

      This is such a sweet article. I tell my 5 year old daughter she is beautiful all the time, but I ALWAYS follow it with “Do you know what makes you beautiful? Because not only are you pretty, but you have a good heart and you are kind.” We’ve talked about how even the prettiest people can be “ugly” because of the way they treat other people. I hope this will teach her to see beauty as a 3 dimensional experience that involves much more than just appearance.

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