[Shared by Musings of a Mum]
I’ve been taking a pause from blogging for a few months partly due to a rather fickle wifi connection and partly as life off line got very busy and finding the time to write anything more than to do lists just didn’t happen.
This was my last draft blog post that I was about to publish before my hiatus. I thought I would share it now…
I read an article recently about how parents praise their children. The general gist was that when we praise boys we say how clever they are but when we praise girls we say how pretty they look making it seem to our daughters that being beautiful is more important than being clever or individual.
At the time I read, absorbed and reminded myself to tell my daughter regularly how clever I thought she was or to spend time talking about the world and not just the Disney Princesses.
In truth, I do spend more time talking about ants in trees and honey bees than I do about Cinderella. Not because I have anything against fairy tales but they don’t interest me as much as other things and as a parent, even when we try not to, it’s often what interests us that we share most with our children.
However over the past weeks I’ve thought more about this. I know plenty of people whose parents never said anything nice to them at all and mothers who were cruel about how their children looked with the aim to improve them in some way. When I tell my daughter (and indeed my sons) that I think they are beautiful or look lovely it’s another way of me saying how much I love them. If they didn’t look nice or weren’t pretty I would still say it. It’s their inner beauty I am appreciating.
So is it wrong to praise beauty? The flip side is that our society is obsessed with looks, both in men and women. Studies have been done to show that more ‘attractive’ people get better job prospects and promotions. I don’t know how well executed this studies were but it strikes a chord that in a looks obsessed world we should be striving to get our children to see that people are more than just handsome faces on perfect bodies. In our world of endless talent and structured reality shows where people try to be just like everyone else, but different enough to be the star, it’s very confusing.
So what do you do? Do you say your child looks pretty or beautiful. Or do you stick rigidly to praising their mind, their curiosity and steer away from ‘that’s a pretty outfit’ talk?