Last Updated on June 12, 2018

I recently read a blog post by Lisa Bloom. It’s a great warning for us adults to consider- what we are communicating when we first meet a little girl and we remark, “You look adorable!”

Lisa says, “Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.” *

Lisa has hit on something important and I too have said things like this without even thinking about what I am communicating. But she hasn’t gone far enough.  Not only does our culture place too much emphasis on beauty and body imagine. It also values athletic accomplishments, musical hits, financial success, and… You can add to the list. Bottom line: success, accomplishment, and acceptance have become modern day idols.

A child placed in an advanced class, another who scores the most goals, one who gets the lead in the musical, another who gets into an Ivy League college or is chosen Homecoming Queen or writes an outstanding paper—surely these kids have the best parents. Surely they are set up for life.


It is not beauty, education, accomplishments, material possessions, health or significance that will ultimately matter. Each of these can disappear in a second.  Our kids come into the world packaged uniquely. You may have one who scores 2400 on her SATs but you may also have a downs syndrome child who will never complete school. Is one more valuable than the other?  Your child may be homely, shy, and a very average student. In the world’s eyes he may never be a success. But if nurtured properly he may develop a compassion for others that is life changing and life giving.

It is character that will sustain a child, an adult, a family no matter what life throws at you.  It is character that will last and it is character that every child needs to develop.

Compassion, kindness, integrity, a teachable spirit, self discipline, a servant’s heart, courage, faith, joy- these are character traits that every child and every adult can grow in. Our job as parents is to equip our children with character.

So when your child comes home from school and exclaims, “No one likes me,” take her aside and say, “I understand. I know how you feel. I have felt left out too. But who is someone in your class that you have noticed that might feel lonely or left out? How can you reach out to her?” (Sit with her at lunch, play with him at recess, etc.). You are nurturing kindness.

Or in carpool you overhear kids cutting down another kid because he’s different or not cool, or… Stop and say, “You know what; every child comes into the world with special gifts and a special plan. What are some of the special things you have noticed about this kid? How can you encourage him?”  You are nurturing a character trait of valuing all people.

Or your teenager’s friend’s Mom is helping him write his college essays. And it will be better than your teen’s. But that’s cheating. It’s supposed to be the student’s essay. Even if everyone else is doing it (and they aren’t) don’t do it. You are training your child in the value of integrity. A life of integrity is far more important than getting into the “right school.” We must nurture integrity and be alert to the ways in which we ourselves are tempted to compromise.

We are all growing in character. We never get “there” ourselves. But one of the blessings of having children is that they provide a natural accountability for our own lives and they call us to a higher standard.

*Footnote: Source


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  1. Yes, I agree. And I would also add that as we're teaching our children character we teach them why we expect certain character traits pointing them toward Galatians 5:22,23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."_Great post!

  2. Thank for the reminder Susan! A good time to consider this with a fresh school year upon us.

    1. Thanks for commenting Jennifer! It is a time for fresh starts!
      Warmly, Susan

  3. I totally agree! This is one of the reasons that I don't make a big deal about what my daughter wears or how her hair looks. If she wants to wear a completely mismatched outfit, then I let her. Let's face it moms, dressing our kids up trendy/cool/fancy is for us, not them 🙂

    1. A wise thougth Tiffany. Dress (unless immodest) is a swing issue!
      Have a great day!

  4. Susan, thank you so much for this post. It's just what we needed today. We are struggling to instill these traits in our young girls (4 and 2) and I feel like we are battling against the entire world, grandparents included. It is super frustrating when a spoiling, doting grandparent (with expensive gifts and excessive compliments) sweeps in and 5 minutes seemlingly erases our work. We've tried multiple to explain why we parent the way we do, but they still do things their way. Any advice on how we can get the grandparents on board with our plan without being controlling, insulting, and unappreciative? THANK YOU!

    1. Thanks Tiff,
      I think I wrote you in February. Let me know if you didn’t recieve it. Blessins on your family!
      Love, Susan

  5. What girl doesnt want to feel beautiful? I really dont think there’s anything wrong with complimenting our children on their own beauty. Yes, we cant do it to the point of neglecting all their other traits but every girl should hear they are beautiful. I make it a point to compliment children b/c I feel like they should hear it often.

    1. Thanks Michelle. Most girls want to be beautiful because that’s what our culture values.It’s fine to tell your child she’s beautiful as long as it’s character that’s emphasized the most. It helps to notice what we as parents say about others. Do we point out beauty, and accomplishments or do we notice and admire someone else’s character i.e. kindness, courage? Our children will pick up what we value by what we talk about. Little girls between 10-14 particularly need to hear their Dad say, “You are beautiful.” (If they hear it from him they’ll be less likely to turn to some guy who tells them that), Often it is helpful to remind them that it is a smile that makes someone beautiful. When you smile at another person it blesses them.

  6. Susan, such providential timing with this article. Thank you for the wisdom and encouragement. Just last night I told my husband I was frustrated about our 13 year old daughter’s lack of humility and of a teachable spirit and my desire for us to be more intentional about her character development. I even told him I wished the folks from Family Life Today would put on a conference for parents like they do for the Weekend to Remember marriage conference. 🙂

    I have downloaded the free e-book and can’t wait to dive in. Thank you once again for this wonderful post and the free resource. Wishing you a blessed Easter.


    1. Erin,
      Great timing:) Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. We appreciate it so much! Bless you with your sweet 13 year old!
      Have a great Easter, Susan

  7. I am half and half agreeable about this article. I believe kids should hear positive words about their appearance. As a kid who grew up never feeling I was not pretty at all, I think withdrawing that compliment from a child regarding their appearance may draw them into finding it through inappropriate negative ways. I believe we should teach our children about character actively and the opportunity can be met just by getting to know your kid and talking to them. I have had the opportunity to teach and have dialogue with my kids regarding character development just by asking them how their day went.