Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Strangers comment too much on their child’s beauty

 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: We adopted a little girl, and she is very beautiful. I have taken to heart your admonition to center praise around effort and accomplishments, and not looks (although I sometimes slip; she really is cute).

My question is, what can I do about comments from people meeting her? (Noting her beauty) is usually one of the first things out of their mouths. And she meets a LOT of people; she has a way of making friends with everyone in the store/restaurant/coffee shop just because she’s so outgoing.

Is there a graceful way to demur without being rude, or do we just hope the family emphasis on character has more weight than the entire rest of the world’s comments on her looks?

Raising a Beautiful Child

You can send a polite message to people who say she’s beautiful by saying, “Inside and out, thank you.” And, you can hold onto the fact that your influence towers over that of the people she meets, at least until peers take over. That’s not to say every remark you make about her looks needs to be treated as a “slip”; you’d be overcompensating if you never said, “I think you’re beautiful.” But if the bulk of the message is about things she controls, like her effort, her attitude, her manners, her determination, her compassion — then her chief messenger can lay a stable foundation (inner beauty trumps outer) beneath what the world keeps implying (outer beauty rules).

Check out the work of Carol Dweck or read NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, for more on constructive praise.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category