Thursday, November 14, 2013

Do You Tell Your Kids They Are Good-Looking?

My son recently started on his high school’s swim team: seed times, meets, heats, Speedos.

At my first meet, I noticed a boy who was clearly very shy. He stood, in his baggy sweatpants, his shoulders hunched, making eye contact with no one, his body language all awkwardness.

And then he stripped down to swim.

Not to sound like a dirty old woman, but this boy had the body of an Adonis, of Michelangelo’s David, of a Ralph Lauren model.

And he didn’t realize it.

I’ve heard parents say they don’t ever tell their children they are good-looking or refer to appearance at all because they don’t want to their kids to think that looks matter and then become anxious about them. Apparently, their theory is, “If I tell my children they are good-looking, then they will worry that they are not.” This makes no sense to me.

Nor does the idea that, if parents don’t talk about appearance, then appearance won’t matter. That ship sailed thousands upon thousands of years ago. (See Adonis, above.)

Nope, I think parents need to act as a counterweight to all the buffeting and doubt and bad ideas children are going to get from other sources.

I tell my kids they are good-looking. I tell them about their fabulous features, like my daughter’s movie-star hair.

What I don’t do is comment negatively on their appearance. And I am not after them to “do” anything with their looks. (That movie-star hair is generally up in a pony tail.)

Because the most attractive thing in the world is confidence.

And confident people can enjoy physical attractiveness, theirs and other people’s – which is what I wish for all kids, including that young Adonis.


  1. I think intelligence is attractive. I tell my kids they are beautiful and smart. But I also tell them, "Beauty Fades...Intelligence is forever!"
    I used to "ogle" a young man that was a neighbor of ours, (I also felt like a dirty old woman), UNTIL one night we went over for a fire in their fire pit. He was a drunk and rude and dumb as rocks. I never looked at him the same again.

  2. I think being funny can be attractive. I worked with a very nerdy, shy looking guy. The more I got to know him, he was hilarious, I started noticing how handsome he was. Gorgeous dark hair, incredible smile, sparkling teeth, great complexion. So first impressions aren't always the one to go with. Get to know someone first.