My husband does this thing my girls love. When he tucks them into bed at night, or while we’re riding in the car, or at some random moment in the living room on any given day, he shouts out, “Who’s pretty and smart?” And our girls raise their hands.
Sometimes they raise both hands.
“Mom! You have to raise your hand, too!” They smile and squeal.
“Oo, oo, I am, I am! I’m pretty and smart!” I shoot my hands in the air and giggle.
My daughters know they’re beautiful, because their Daddy tells them so.
But the truth is every child is beautiful.
Because our heavenly Father says so.
A few weeks ago, my girls had a playmate over for a visit. We sat in the kitchen eating popcorn, and I looked around the table at these lovely children, three masterpieces made by God’s own hand. “Girls,” I said, “you are all beautiful. God made each one of you beautiful and smart and delightful. Did you know that?”
Of course my daughters shrugged and nodded “yes,” like it was a known fact. But their friend turned to me with a blank face and shook her head.
“You are.” I looked straight into her eyes and spoke gently. “God creates beauty. He made you exactly who you are, and he does not make mistakes. Hasn’t anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?”
Now maybe she was just a little freaked by my outburst of compliments, which okaysurefine might seem creepy to kids who don’t know me well, but hey I’m an encourager and a believer and all people need to know their worth both young and old, so I tell it like it is. But this sweet child just stared back at me and said without blinking, “No. Nobody tells me that.”
Something in my stomach sank.
How could a child so young doubt her own worth? Is it possible her parents had never told her she’s lovely? Maybe, but I doubt it. I know her mom. This child is loved. More likely, her mom tells her she’s beautiful but the dear girl forgets. As with most lessons we try to instill in our kids, words require repeating (and repeating and repeating) before truth sinks in. Or, sadly, maybe in this case a mother’s encouragement is already getting drowned out by other voices, other opinions, from TV and internet and catty kids at school.
So if you think you’ve convinced your children they’re special? Tell them again.
And again and again and again.
And when you’re done, tell them once more for good measure. Then start all over the next day.
They cannot hear it enough.
As parents, for better or worse, we create our children’s first impression of themselves. How will they know they are beautiful, smart, special and kind unless we tell them? And how will they believe it unless we speak with the authority of One much mightier than us, whose opinion never changes or fails?
Our kids aren’t special just because we said so. They’re special because God made them that way.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).
Yes, I know, especially in modern parenting philosophies there’s the danger of puffing our kids up and inflating their self-importance. Pride is an inbred parasite waiting for some fuel to feed on. But that’s the kicker. Pride goes both ways. We can think too much of ourselves, or we can think too little. Our children can believe they’re better than the rest of the world, or they can beat themselves down, believing they’re too fat or too thin, not talented enough, not smart enough, awkward or ugly or unlikeable.
Which problem do you think they’re more likely to face, really?
The solution is to instill real self-worth by teaching our kids to think not of themselves, but of God. Who he says they are is who they are. Nobody else’s opinion—not even their own—can change that.
And now because many of you are probably already thinking of this scene from The Help, I thought I’d share it here so we all can conjure up our inner Abilene and go forth to encourage our kids.
They are kind.
They are smart.
They are important.
And they are beautiful—because God made them.
If you can’t see this video, click here to view it on YouTube.