You Can Tell My Daughter This, But Not That

It’s become quite popular these days to talk about why you shouldn’t say this or that to my daughter.

A little old lady in the grocery store tells my daughter she’s pretty, and all of a sudden it’s an Open Letter To That Woman – Why My Daughter Is More Than Pretty.

Well – yes. Yes, she is.

But other than the fact that it’s currently trendy to be offended by everything under the sun, there is actually nothing wrong at all with my daughter being told she’s pretty.

When I see an adult I don’t know, whether male or female, and I want to pay them a compliment, I’m not going to just grab some random positive thought and throw it their way, hoping that it somehow hits the mark and matches up with who they are.

I’m going to say something positive about what I can see right in front of me – their shirt, their shoes, their car, their bag, their jacket, their watch, their hair. If they’re holding or wearing something that shows a specific interest (music, sport, etc) I might mention that, but usually not. I’ll be honest, I don’t usually walk up to strangers and say “Hiii, you’re so pretty!” (Maybe I should start??!!) I tend to choose something they’re wearing as a compliment.

The point is, what I say focuses on the external. I don’t know if that stranger is smart, athletic, or an extremely kind thoughtful person who is always there for a friend in need, but I can see that she’s wearing a killer pair of shoes, or that he’s got a great outfit. And that’s what I’m going to compliment.

A few words from a stranger are not shaping my daughter’s heart. I am.

My daughter is being raised to know that she is kind, smart, strong, intelligent, thoughtful and generous. She is also told that she is beautiful – inside and out. Both her father and I compliment her on her outfits, her hair, her shoes – and on her art, her school work, her writing, her acts of kindness, her strength.

There is much more to her than her external appearance – but her external appearance is, in fact, part of her. To deny that is as wrong as to deny her kindness or her strength. They are all parts of the whole, the wonderful being that my daughter is and is meant to be.

If you see me with my daughter in the store – you can tell her that she’s pretty.

My daughter will smile, and say “Thank you.”

… because besides being raised to be strong, intelligent, and brave, my daughter is being raised to be gracious when offered kind words, to never judge a person’s intentions too harshly, to be confident in her whole person and to not base her self-image on a few words from a stranger.

My daughter is beautiful – inside and out.

But if you happen to meet her and you don’t know her yet, you can just tell her that she’s beautiful.

She knows the “inside and out” part for herself.

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43 Comments

  1. I can totally relate with this..I too have a daughter who I want to be not only pretty but strong, smart with common sense and kind. Well said ?

  2. Always interesting to hear perspectives. I want to teach my son that he is more than what people might project onto him 🙂 Many times, I call people beautiful. English is a second language for me and beautiful means a lot more than just physical appearance.

  3. I always admire how intentional and thoughtful you are in the way you parent your kids. I loved this post– and you were so right in about shaping her heart so that she is able to receive compliments in a way that builds her up. Thank you for this read ❤

  4. I love this post. After two boys I now have a girl, and I have read so many articles about what I should be offended at on her behalf that I am started to worry about why I don’t feel offended like I should! I think we are the main influence and can accept a well-intentioned compliment when offered. (But just let me see any man wolf-whistle at my girl in a school uniform and THEN see the over-protective parent come out!)

  5. Yes that’s so true! I remember reading an article where the mother refused to let her daughter thank someone who told her she’s pretty. By teaching your daughter that’s she’s more than just what’s on the outside, she can graciously take the comment and be polite!

  6. Even though I don’t have a daughter this truly resonates with me! In a society that is so easily offended it’s nice to hear that some are still willing to accept a simple compliment!

  7. So correct article, instead of stopping the world, we should build our children inside out! They should learn to balance their lies with compliments & comments. They need to be head strong from early !

  8. So true! I’ve read so many articles about what NOT to say about a girls appearance, that I barely know what to say anymore.
    But truly we can’t bubble wrap our children. We must build their self image and strength from the inside

  9. I love that there are still a few good stories to read. she is super pretty and you should be a proud momma!

  10. Such a great post, but it also makes me slightly terrified of having to raise a daughter. I’m anxious for the roads that come ahead as I try to raise a little girl to be more than just a little girl.

  11. Anna this is absolutely amazing! and kind of funny because today I saw this girl with a Kicka** lipstick at the pharmacy and I had to stop to ask her the brand of it. The world is so full of negative, why can’t people just smile and say a positive even if it is an external comment. I get that having a young girl this could be influential to her learning but it always makes me feel good when someone says something positive no matter what type of comment it is.

  12. I thought this was right timing that you wrote this! I always wonder why I write things like that online but would I do it to a stranger. Sometimes I do but other times not. I guess it just depends on the situation.

  13. Sounds like you are doing a great job raising your daughter! I think it is all about balance and you are doing a good job about talking about how beautiful she is both inside and out! 🙂

  14. I LOVE this! You’re so right! My mom used to encourage me to give at least one compliment when I was at school each day. After school she would ask me who I complimented and I would proudly report back. It didn’t have anything to do with someone’s character usually. I was in middle school. It was usually ‘hey, nice sweater!’ etc. I love what you said about people not shaping your daughter’s heart. Go mama!

  15. This is so great. You’re right about living in a world that everyone looks to be offended, it seems. But I love how you own that parents are responsible for helping children see the value in themselves, not the world.

  16. I really lovely post. In my IMO beauty is skin deep. A beautiful person is someone who acts like a beautiful person, not looks like one

  17. This is such a lovely post. I definitely agree with celebrating all our qualities, and if that comes down to telling a stranger you like their shirt, or how they’ve done their hair today – so be it! You’re clearly teaching your daughter right 🙂

  18. Thanks for sharing this perspective. A compliment is a compliment, said to be nice. Sounds like your daughter’s going to turn into a strong and confident woman because of you!

  19. Isn’t that the truth?! People are so easily offended … we’ve allowed people to whine about everything so we’ve created a culture of adult toddlers that need to be pacified over everything. It’s sad really ?

  20. This is so good. So many people are grasping to take offense at any and everything. What happened to simplicity? A simple compliment and a kind returned “thank you”. Your daughter is beautiful. 🙂

  21. This was really helpful to read and hear Anna, it’s definitely something I have thought about too! I used to cringe when my daughter was called a princess or pretty or a doll. But after awhile, I let it go and realized they are just trying to be polite and give a compliment, like you said, to something that was right in front of them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I completely agree!

    1. Kristie, I totally hear you. It’s all about balance for me. Helping her understand that external things are just one part of her whole person. Thanks for reading!! ❤❤

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