Last week, my extended family was together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Among the gathered relatives was my cousin’s daughter Kate, a precious four-year-old. At one point during the day, Kate pulled on her one-year-old cousin’s baby dress and pranced around the living room. You could see her relishing the attention she was getting from everyone!
Then one of the adults in the room started making fun of Kate. Lightly, of course, and not even in a way that Kate would necessarily recognize. But her mother didn’t miss a beat before she said, “Don’t you dare make fun of her. Tell her that she is beautiful now, or some boy will later.”
Kate’s mother went on to explain, “We make sure Kate’s dad tells her she’s beautiful so often, that when she is older, and some guy tries to woo her by telling her she’s pretty, she can say ‘Well that’s nothing new. My daddy tells me that all the time!'”
Kate is only 4. To some, it may sound a little early to already be worrying about boys and sex. But in just six years, Kate will be the age at which most children see porn for the first time. In eight years, Kate will be in middle school and will face challenges in our culture that I can only begin to imagine.
Teasing can be harmless. But ask yourself, have I told my daughter today that she is beautiful? And if you haven’t, who will? Kate may never know how conscientiously her parents tried to shape her into a healthy young woman, but I am confident that the effects of her parents’ diligence will help her long into adulthood.