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Mar 17, 2013

Grandparents: HOW TO TALK TO LITTLE GIRLS

"The Combing of Granddaughter" - &qu...
"The Combing of Granddaughter" - "Το Κτένισμα της Εγγονής" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There they are all wrapped in sunshine and strawberries...those beautiful granddaughters running into our open arms. You can't help it, they are just sweet and pretty so we keep telling them so. You look so beautiful today...I love to look at you! We are only speaking what comes to our mind because we adore them. But, should we be doing that?

Or, could it be that we are sending a message that, as girls, that is why we love them...because they are pretty? Are they hearing words that will affect the way they see themselves for the rest of their lives?

In an article written for the Huffington Post back in 2011, Lisa Bloom had some pretty convincing arguments for changing the way we talk to our grandchildren. Her article had this to say:
Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. 
The message girls get may lead them to behavior that not only "dumbies down" their personalities but also could be dangerous. I don't know about you but I don't think that a child should be worrying about their weight or looks before they can do the multiplication tables or even read.

She went on to say:
Try this the next time you meet a little girl.... Ask her what she's reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers.
It may have been my daughter-in-law that pointed this article out but I am not sure. I am grateful for the heads up. My granddaughters are beautiful but that is not what is interesting about them.  I, for one, am going to change how my conversation starts with them.  And trust me, their clothes or hair will not come up in the conversation. We will talk about the most fun they have had lately, maybe simply what they know or even who their friends are. I really don't want any of my granddaughters to grow up with the belief that being hot is more important the being interesting...not because of something I said!

It is just a thought!

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Lisa Blooms's How to Talk to Girls

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6 comments :

  1. Though I'm not a grandmother yet, my grandmother was the love of my life. She was always quick to tell me how beautiful I was, and there were times in my life when I really needed to hear that! I think if you really love your granddaughters, they will know that telling them they are beautiful is simply part of the business of grandmothering. True love comes through!

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  2. I tell my niece she's beautiful all the time because she is. I also tell her that she's smart, funny, can be anything she wants to be--because she can.
    She goes to Barnard and calls me when she needs advice so I don't think I scarred her.
    It's all about respect and caring. I could sense when she was two she didn't want to be treated as a toddler so I treated her as a mini adult--only I set the rules when we were together
    I knew she didn't like the twilight series because I asked about her reading--it's important to me. Now she reads French literature in French, writes for the Columbia Spectator and is a DJ who plays all kinds of music.
    I can't wait to see what she does as a sophomore!
    My mother was blind when Samantha was born. It made her crazy not to see her only granddaughter--and made me understand that brains beauty and wit are all part of one equatation
    Her other grandmother is distant and seemingly uncaring. She needed one person to love her unconditionally. I no longer tell her she's beautiful. In her 900 FB pictures she looks like a dork in half--she's gorgeous but nerds are in. It's cool to be smart. And that makes me very happy

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  3. That's an excellent point. I have two grandaughters and do tell them how pretty they are. But, then we always read something together, or practice our numbers (they are 5 and 2) and I tell them how well they are doing.

    I hadn't thought about the message being sent if the "pretty" part always dominates. Thanks, Barb.

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  4. I think you make an excellent point about praising what is uniquely good about the child (applies to boys too) and making non-appearance compliments dominate. I do believe that since appearance is so important in our society that girls (and boys) need to hear that their appearance is great too - just as it is. I had a young staff member once who was not conventionally pretty but had such confidence in her appearance that everyone found her beautiful. I may be biased because I wish that my Mom had told me I (or my hair or eyes of whatever) were beautiful instead of constantly criticizing my appearance and nitpicking how I looked. That did more harm I think than the opposite IMO.

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  5. I saw my granddaughters for an evening last week. To one I said, "You're taller than me now." To the other I said, "I'm glad I get to see you."

    They are not effusive girls, either. That's fine with me.

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  6. Thank you all for your comments. The old saying "beauty ifs only skin deep" really does come into play here and I think you all recognize the fact that it is all about balance.

    Many of you hit on the point...what if you granddaughter (or son) is not beautiful to the eye? It is those of us that love our grandchildren, nieces, nephews or children beyond reason that see their beauty shining through. Like all our children need to hear the words "You are so beautiful (handsome) and you make me happy." Sharon so aptly pointed that out. Love is the the eyes through which we must see.

    But, like all things, too much or too little is neither healthy or positive.

    Be well,

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