When I look at my daughters, I see the two most beautiful girls in the world. However, the older they get, the more I realize that I need to help them understand that the beauty that truly matters has nothing to do with how a person looks.
Our culture teaches the exact opposite. If we listen to the messages conveyed by most TV shows, movies, magazines, advertisers, and many of the people around us, we’ll learn that our looks determine our worth. If we don’t teach our children—especially our daughters—the truth, they’ll accept our culture’s warped view of beauty.
How can we help our kids understand the truth about beauty? I believe these are some great starting points.
How to teach our children that true beauty is on the inside
- Be careful how we talk about our own appearances. It’s somewhat common for me to look in the mirror and mutter a disparaging comment to myself about my appearance (a statement about how my hair won’t stay in place, a grumble about my shirt fitting poorly because I still haven’t lost all the “baby weight” from my last pregnancy, etc.). We can tell our children all we want that it’s what’s on the inside that matters, but when they see and hear us making comments like these, they’re learning that we don’t truly believe this. Sadly, it won’t be long before we hear them making comments like these about themselves.
- Be careful how we talk about the appearances of others. As with comments about our own appearances, our children see and hear our words about how others look. This reinforces the lesson that it’s what’s on the outside that matters. As a result, our children will judge others by their looks, give preference to those who meet our culture’s standards of beauty, and tease or belittle those who have traits that our culture considers to be unattractive.
- Believe what the Bible teaches about beauty and teach this to them. We’re going to have a lot of difficulty doing the two points mentioned above if we don’t truly believe that what’s on the inside matters more than what’s on the outside. In order to keep our culture’s thoughts on beauty from permeating our minds, it’s helpful to meditate on Scripture. We need to study, memorize, and believe these verses. We then need to teach them to our children.
- “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
- “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 134:14
- “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7
- “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
- “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
- “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
- Reinforce their character traits. It seems so natural to compliment our children when they look nice or do things that are cute, but do we compliment them when they are kind? Do we compliment them when they act responsibly or serve others? Most of us (especially females) long to know that we are attractive to someone, so I believe it is appropriate for us to let our kiddos know that they are pretty or handsome. However, it is so important that we balance this with affirmations about their character traits and actions—the things that truly make them beautiful!
- Be careful what toys they play with and what shows or movies they watch. What do our kids learn about beauty from their toys and screen time? Do they learn that men should be muscular like action figures and that women should be tall and skinny like Barbie®? Do they learn that only attractive girls can be princesses (after all, the Disney princesses are all lovely) and that only athletes (i.e., strong, muscular men) are popular and influential? Dolls and cartoons may seem trivial, but they’re not. They influence our kids’ perceptions. We need to make sure we’re giving them toys and exposing them to media that build an appropriate understanding of beauty.
Do you agree with these approaches? What other things do you do to help your children understand that true beauty is on the inside?
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