• Stellabella

    I don’t have a kid, but I do have a kickass dog, and this is what I tell her: “Mabel, you are so pretty and nobody catches a ball like you do, and you’re good at math. But most important, you’re not stuck up.” Feel free to use that whenever you’d like.

  • Bluevartouhi

    Gosh Heather, why is it that your posts about Leta always strike such a chord with me? This isn’t the first time I’ve teared up at something you wrote about how you show your love to your daughter. I’ve never felt good enough. Leta is very lucky.

  • http://www.pinkandgreengirl.com Erin

    I tell my 7-week old daughter that she’s a beautiful girl about every 5 minutes. And I find myself quickly adding, “And so smart, too!”

    This was a great post. I can relate on so many levels.

  • http://funnythingis.blogspot.com barbercharm

    As a mother of a son and a daughter (who are both SUPER cute and smart!) I never miss an opportunity to tell them both how wonderful they are. Self worth needs to start young and at home! In my opinion, in this world, especially for girls, people are always trying to make you feel worthless and that you aren’t good enough. So why not equip our children with the confidence and self worth they need to know THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH and can do whatever it is they desire. And I pray that my daughter will not have to settle for the shmuck that puts her down and makes her feel worthless because at least it’s someone paying attention to her. Our hope is for her to not settle until she finds the man that will treat her the way she deserves to be treated, like the most beautiful Princess in all the land.

    Good job Heather. You, in my book, are a wonderful mother.

  • VinnyGirl

    Beautiful can mean more than beauty itself. And besides she needs to know she is beautiful. I know I still love (and probably need) to hear it.

    Great post. It’s nice to know there are mothers out there that think like you do.

  • http://outtamymindwithworry.blogspot.com/ margalit

    She is beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful (I’d kill for those eyelashes) and she’s also smart. These are just two facets of who Leta is in this world. But when you compliment her one these, you want to also compliment her on how kind she is, and how helpful, and how she cares for others, and her empathy with Chuck, etc. Make sure that all the things that make her beautiful, including her singing, are complimented and she’ll grow up feeling good about herself without feeling self-important. It’s the parents that ONLY comment on one facet of their child, whether it be that the kid is a good athlete or very brainy or strikingly pretty that ensure the kid will have self-doubts. As Leta grows, make sure that she knows that even the things that aren’t particularly attractive now, like her ability to argue you under a rock, are good qualities in an adult, say if she wants to go to Law School.

  • http://www.busytarp.blogspot.com Pixie

    You are an amazing mother.

  • http://gorgeoux.blogspot.com gorgeoux

    I was about 15 when I learned from my mom and dad’s colleagues that they brag about me all the time, not simply as being good enough but being super good. I was stunned that everybody else would hear it but me. Now I’m almost the double age and I’m hearing it from them, too. However, I think that it imprinted me with a push-too-hard attitude about everything that scares the hell out of many people. It’s unthinkable not to push hard, and it’s unthinkable that I’d lay this upon a child. Luckily, it seems like I won’t have any.

  • http://proudmary.typepad.com ProudMary

    I can think of no better thing than a little girl growing up to believe that she is smart and beautiful.

  • http://www.justsayjes.com/blog jes

    Heather, THANK YOU FOR THAT LAST SENTENCE. Because I think that is the most important part, that Leta will ALWAYS be good enough. That is something that I still struggle with, and I am nearly 28.

    There are so many things that you teach Leta that I wish my parents would have taught me.

  • crumb

    My family told me I was smart, beautiful, and loved, and it got me through some crap years growing up and even in my adulthood. Self-worth is an important gift you have the power to give her. Keep it up!

  • Jenski

    I think telling girls TOO often that they are cute/pretty/beautiful can be dangerous. I know this because I’ve read lots of books about the subject-how girls become obsessed or preoccupied with their appearance because their appearance is what gets them so much attention. Haven’t we all heard stories about models or acctresses who are gorgeous but feel ugly? It’s because if you learn that your value is associated with your appearance, your self worth is too caught up in things you have little control over-external factors. Yes, of course you can balance out your comments with ones that praise her intelligence, behavior, work that she has done-but be careful. Let her know that she is beautiful to you but don’t overemphasize it. Give her attention for what she does (and doesn’t do), not so much for what she looks like.

  • http://www.thedrisin.blogspot.com dre

    Every person needs to hear that they are beautiful and smart – especially from their parents! It’s when kids are taught that they are better than other people because of it, that it becomes a problem.

    It was a strange revelation when I finally realized that my parents were just people and not super-heroes. Depsite their mistakes, one thing my sister and I ALWAYS believed growing up is that we are good enough! I will be forever grateful to my parents for giving us self-esteem and self-worth.

  • tk

    There’s nothing wrong with telling her how beautiful she is. Or how smart she is. Or how much you love her. I think the people that do their children the biggest disservice in this world are the ones who don’t compliment their children or hug or kiss them enough etc. You don’t strike me as the type that will spoil their child and turn them into a rotten little monster that thinks the whole world revolves around them. Now those are the kids that are going to be fucked up. I have a couple cousins that are perfect examples of this. One of whom I’d like to kick in the ass and tell her to smarten the hell up. She’s had every advantage in the world and still treats her entire family like shit.

    Hell, I even know parents that have kids that get pissed off when they don’t get their way and then they tell their parents that they hate them. You want to know what the parent’s response is? “I hate you too!!”. How awful is that!!!!

    I did not get to comment on your previous entry before you closed comments on it. I hope that your Aunt Lola is doing well and hope she will be feeling better soon. That video of Leta was completely precious.


  • mayersquare

    I can’t find anything wrong with providing your child with a good self-image and confidence! Everyone loves to hear that they are beautiful and smart…..goes back to the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all”, and I think those things definitely qualify! Kudos!

  • http://www.inside-joke.net aylaofnopeople

    This makes me want a kid, as much as I’ve always said I loathe children in their entirety and vowed never to have any of my own.

  • Keb

    I struggle with this issue and my two daughters. I want them to know how beautiful, smart, funny, witty, caring, loving, etc they are. But I don’t want to raise little diva’s either. Thin, thin line me thinks.

  • http://wakeupapril.com Jackie

    Really, your daughter is so lucky to have parents that worry about such things.

  • http://www.vickyth.wordpress.com VickyTH

    Being told you’re beautiful by your mother is not the same as being told you are beautiful by a neutral third party, as we all know. Your mother, when she says that you’re beautiful, is talking about the whole you, including the parts that much of the world never sees. Keep telling her she’s beautiful. She’ll need to know that someone who really knows her thinks she is, at some point.

  • Charlie

    When I kiss my kids good night and tell them that I love them, I make it a point to compliment each one on something new every day. Sometimes it’s as basic as “you really made me laugh hard at dinner time” or “thanks for being so sweet to your grandma” or even something like: “I think you fart louder than I can scream.” The point is to find something that they DIDN’T work at and say “that was really good.”

  • laura

    I simply want to say that as a woman whose Mom has always made her feel that I’m never good enough, the last line in your entry made me cry. Leta is such a lucky girl to have a Mom with such unconditional love. It’s something I’ve always said I will instill in my children, the idea that I love them no matter what they turn out to be. It’s a sentiment I’ve come to accept I will never get from my mother.

    My mom stated to me a few months ago that her only dream for me was to get a college degree (I’m about 4 credits short of one with hopes to finish it soon). I simply wanted to respond to her “I wish your dream for me, Mom, was simply that I be happy and healthy.” I didn’t have the energy or gumption to say it, though. So that is my quiet, internal plea whenever I think about that conversation; I want her to just love me for who I am and rejoice in the fact that I am happy and healthy.

  • http://www.jillmurray.com Jill Murray

    Why is this post making me tear up? I’m not even PMS. Damn you Heather B. Armstrong! (OK, not really.)

  • http://www.internalmonoblog.typepad.com/ Sandra Heikkinen

    It’s hard, I think, to raise children (daughters especially) who are confident in their smarts, looks…everything…without raising them to be cocky. Sounds like you’re getting the balance right.

  • http://amadaun.net Nikki Jeske

    That is a wonderful philosophy.

  • DG

    I haven’t a single memory of my mother telling me that she thought I was beautiful, not even on my wedding day. I know that sounds awful, but she was a good mom, if a little demanding sometimes. I know that she didn’t want me to grow up vain, or hung up on looks. I think it made me more insecure, actually, because your parents are your only mirrors as a kid. You’re not old enough to have an opinion about what you look like, and no one’s going to tell you if you’re a pretty 7 year old. Most of my friends grew up with parents who complimented them, and they would just roll their eyes and think “of course she thinks I’m pretty, she’s my mom!” But I feel like that allowed them to move on, and laid a foundation for confidence in themselves and the traits that would really matter later. I’ve always been much too hung up on it, obsessing about certain features, always feeling like the odd duckling in a room full of confident women. As an Asian girl growing up in a mostly white community, that’s not an easy thing to deal with. I’ve pretty much made up my mind that when I have kids I’ll tell them they’re beautiful, as I’m sure they will be to me!

    So yeah, Dooce, I’d tell Leta. I’d have a hard time not telling her!

  • http://www.hippestkid.com/ Be Still

    I’m a firm believer in telling my child how handsome, smart, kind and simply wonderful he is. I do it often and unconditionally. That’s what we all deserve from our parents but rarely get.

    A child needs a safe harbor in a frequently cruel world. That is what a home represents to us.

    In this culture, people are constantly bombarded with messages about their inadequacy. I see my actions as merely balancing the scale.

  • schadenfreudette

    oops. is it bad then that i get my 4 year old to eat broccolli by telling her it will make her smart AND pretty?

    i do know what you mean though. i was told so often about how smart i was growing up, it was hard to identify myself beyond that, and it became integral to my self worth. i just try to make sure to compliment my daughters (age 3 and 4) on non-conventional things too.

    they get praise for being unique, silly, funny, weird, pathological, clever, clean, messy, all of it.

  • LawLawChelle

    I tell my daughter she’s beautiful all the time, as well as as smart, loving, etc. My mom never commented on my looks except in the negative. She believed she should focus on my intellect instead. When I was in junior high I asked her if I was pretty and she said, “You’re no Miss America.” So I thought I was ugly. Imagine my surprise when I got my first “real” job and the older women started saying I was hired because of my looks. ha! Those old cows thought I was pretty, and that my looks were more overwhelming than my overly-praised intellect? I could have kissed them all. One thing I do tell my daughter, though, is that everyone has a different idea of beautiful, and that it’s the way some people like chocolate ice cream and some people like vanilla. I think this is really important. And true.

  • Elise

    Beauty and brains are definitely the accessories that make life a whole lot easier. But I think that qualities like patience, honesty, intellectual curiosity, the ability to take risks and courage are what parents should really value about their children. How do you teach these values in today’s world?

  • http://chanelbaby.typepad.com/chanelbaby Heather Tinsley

    I just had to comment and send you a huge BRAVA Dooce. I completely, 100%, wholeheartedly agree with what you said in your post today. It is good and right to reinforce a child’s knowlege of his or her natural gifts, and it is equally good and right that the child knows that he or she is valuable simply for being the unique being they are. We all could use some parenting like that, even as adults!

    I also think (warning warning completely unsolicited advice coming discard if not helpful) that this kind of parenting is especially good when there is more than one child in a family, so kids don’t start falling into family “roles.” It always hurt me that my parents didn’t appreciate the musical talent I had, which, though small in comparison to my sister’s, was still there.

  • Kari

    Tell her as many times as it takes for her to believe it. I recently found journals from my teens and I’m shocked at how low my self-esteem was. Not that my parents didn’t tell me enough or told me too much that I was smart and beautiful…but I was probably 25 before I believed it.

    Lot of wasted years not feeling good enough.

  • http://hypermetamorphic.blogspot.com sasha

    My mom tells me all the time to stop telling my boys how gorgeous they are. I don’t know where people get the notion that you can hurt a child with too much love. I tell them that they’re smart, funny, creative, and beautiful. I also tell them that I love them when they make me angry, and that I love them when they’re angry with me. I also tell them when they’re fucking up or pissing me off. All in the name of good communication. They seem to get the message.

    And one more thing…life is often kinder to beautiful people…we automatically assign qualities like smart, kind, friendly to those who are good-looking. Lucky for your daughter (and you, too, for that matter) to be so damned gorgeous.

  • http://www.bollywoodwest.com DesiDancer

    Bravo, dooce! I wish more people put half as much thought as you have into how to instill senses of self-worth and personal pride in their children.

    and for good measure, would you mind calling me and telling me I’m good, no matter what? ;)

  • http://www.ranitngsinred.com coffeygirlb

    There ya go babe. you’re ready for number two. Child # 2 that is!

  • Ter

    I’ve always told my kids they’re beautiful — even my boys. I know I’m reacting to their sheer physical beauty, but it’s more than that: everything about them is beauty to me, including how they feel in my arms, how they make me feel at the moment I’m doing something with/for them, a moment of joy I would never otherwise experience — I’m certain as parents that we call our children beautiful because of so many variables, not just their appearance — at least that’s how I’ve always felt. I can just talk about one of my children, without them being present, and describe how beautiful they are.

    Having said that, I don’t think you can ever tell your kids enough how beautiful/smart they are — so many people say so many damaging things to their children & to tell our children how special we (as parents) think they are is totally cool.

    This post really made me feel good — thank you.

  • http://www.simzgirl.com/ simzgirl

    Wow. What a truly amazing post. Thank you for sharing it with us. Now we just need all the other parents in the world to get that message across!

  • http://plazajen.blogspot.com Jennifer in Kansas City

    My father is dying of cancer, and as I drove away from my last visit, these words flew into my head, “I turned out pretty good, and he knows it.” And then I burst into tears.

    All I ever wanted was to measure up. Now all I want is more time to measure.

    Good for you to see how important that message is, for it is probably the most overlooked one.

  • kawaface

    love no matter what. it’s such an important thing for children to know, i think.

    my mom would tell me i was beautiful when i was feeling ugly…it surely must be nice to be told that for no reason, not just as a way to cheer up.

  • Trouble in Mind

    My folks did a great job at making me feel like I was loved no matter what. I am tring to pass that same sense of security on to my (nearly) eight year old son. I tell him he is handsome (he doesn’t like the word ‘cute’) and smart and funny and most of all that I love him ‘no matter what’.

    I also tell him that even when he is a wrinkly old man with a long gray beard, he will still be my little baby boy. He has learned to laugh and roll his eyes at the same time.

  • GoodTxGirl

    My boys are 15 and 20 and I still tell them how handsome and wonderful they are each and every day. No one was around to tell me those things when I was growing up so I vowed to NEVER let a day go by without telling my children how important they are in this world….and that they are loved, no matter what!

  • http://melinor.blogspot.com MelanieinOrygun

    Oh, god. You know, I struggled with that with my girls, too… tell them they are more beautiful to me than any other being on the planet? Tell them they are the most brilliant girls I have ever known? Tell them I will always love them, no matter what? I finally settled on D) All of the above, and it seems to be working well so far.
    Wish they gave out instruction manuals for these things when you pop ‘em out, but they don’t. Sounds to me like you have a damn good handle on it, though.

  • GoodTxGirl

    My boys are 15 and 20 and I still tell them how handsome and wonderful they are each and every day. No one was around to tell me those things when I was growing up so I vowed to NEVER let a day go by without telling my children how important they are in this world….and that they are loved, no matter what!

  • snubbed

    I think hearing positive things is really important to a child. I’ve never thought of separating comments about looks from those about intelligence etc., because I think all of these are encouraging. I thik that as long as you also tell her that she is good enough, and she always will be, then any compliment will just add to her truly believing that she is.

    I often tell my little guy that he’s perfect… No human really is, but in the eyes of those who love him truly, he is perfect. We wouldn’t change anything about him…

    I say go ahead and shower her with compliments, and back them up with assurance that she will always be good enough. Period. :)

  • http://www.teensleuth.squarespace.com TeenSleuth

    What a beautiful post. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to tell Leta she’s beautiful. She is! And besides, isn’t beauty just the spark of life and goodness and promise that’s inside her? Children are beautiful because they’re fresh and pure and just because you can see it in her face doesn’t mean it’s not as “real” or it’s less meaningful as praising her kindness or her patience.

    You’ve made my birthday (today) even nicer. Thanks!

  • http://tiggerlane.blogspot.com Tiggerlane

    I apologize for not reading all the previous comments, but I applaud you for weighing your words carefully as you choose which ones to laud upon your daughter. I would not hesitate to use “beautiful” or “smart.” I would caution you about calling her “special.” Lately, it seems a lot of the spoiled young brats of the world took that compliment the wrong way as they heard it growing up, and it has given them the idea that they are more-deserving of the species. They have used it to justify actions that are unappealing and selfish.

    Then again, I can’t believe I even commented. You are fantastic parents, and just neurotic enough that Leta will come away with confidence and a sense of what’s right and wrong in this world.

    And she is beautiful, inside and out!

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/sparkgrrl658 stephanie

    i don’t know if someone already mentioned this or not, but last night when there was nothing else on i watched “shalom in the home” on tlc, and if you don’t already know it’s a little jewish guy named schmuly [schmoo-LEE] who travels around in a silver mobil home to help families.

    anyway, your entry just now was pretty much exactly word for word what last night’s episode was about, it was kind of eerie.

    and you are absolutely right, and now you can say the jewish therapist guy agrees with you, so you KNOW you are right.

  • http://therambleroom.blogspot.com Hemlock

    Here’s my two cents.

    As long as you are saying positive things to her, it doesn’t matter. Tell her she’s beautiful. Tell her she’s smart. Tell her you are proud of her. No harm can come of it as long as it’s positive.

  • textilesdiva

    You seem to have a good handle on this parenting thing (as best one can).

  • http://www.snickrsnack.com Snickrsnack Katie

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with telling someone they are pretty or smart. Then again, being told both can lead to problems, or being forced to be one or the other can lead to problems. Last night’s episode of Shalom in the Home was a prime example. But it sounds like Leta is neither being forced to be something she isn’t, nor is she being showered with too much praise. You are just being parents, giving your child unconditional love and acceptance. And that is beautiful.

    That post was amazing, Heather.

  • http://justlinda.net JustLinda

    I have five girls and given this a lot of thought. I don’t know that there is any one ‘right’ answer. I think we need to tell them they are beautiful just as much as we need to tell them they are smart. I also think that at some point, they are going to discount both of those as “Well, you’re my MOM so you *have* to think that.” and write us off altogether.

    I remember once my mom telling me how OBSERVANT I was. That stuck. I think it was because she pointed out that most kids my age were not that. I was also labeled as CREATIVE and that stuck too. I think when we give genuine praise on what makes our child special from others, that might be what they remember.

    But I still think we need to tell them all the other stuff too, just because if we don’t, our hearts just may BURST with it all.

    Even with praise of the physical, as they get older, I would say be SPECIFIC. My 2nd daughter was always told she had very full and beautiful lips and a great arch to her eye brows. She believed that ’cause it resonated.

    You can mention Leta’s eye brow arch but she might not really appreciate that until she’s older. LOL

    By the way, Leta has the most beautiful large sincere looking eyes… and oh, those lashes. Yes, we all think that they are just incredibly beautiful. Because they all are.