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When Pretty Does More Than It Ought

When Pretty Does More Than It Ought

“I’m so pretty!” my four-year-old daughter squealed. She patted the new pink ruffled skirt with pure joy and then twirled in front of a mirror. Blonde hair bounced golden curls, blue eyes sparkled, and rosy cheeks blushed. She turned expectantly for my approval. With every fiber of my being I agreed. She filled every syllable of a-dor-a-ble and I laughed with pleasure.

Children love compliments. In fact, they are the first to give them…to themselves.

My parents were careful about praise, fearful of where it might take me, and compliments were rare. I learned to appreciate their heart, but I longed for their approval.

That struggle continued into my spiritual walk. I see myself in the picture of my daughter’s upturned face and hopeful eyes. While trusting in Christ’s grace I often find myself striving in an exhausting cycle to win His admiration. Searching for approval is stamped in my memory.

As a parent, I wondered how to balance needs for words of affirmation without feeding vanity and pride. Certainly, my own upbringing hadn’t made me immune to either.

The Apostle Paul often complimented the body of Christ. He honored the believer’s faith, participation, discipline, hard work and steadfastness.

Jesus complimented Nathanael by referring to him as an Israelite without guile. He praised the faith of the centurion whose servant was ill, and credited Mary’s devotion when she poured perfumed oil on His feet.

The Bible isn’t blind to beauty or physical attributes. Job’s daughters were the fairest in the land, Rachel was beautiful in face and form, David was handsome and Samson was strong.

But, I needed to learn to differentiate between flattery and praise in my own heart.

Proverbs 26:28 says “a flattering mouth works ruin.” It promotes pride and its motive is often self-serving. Flattery feeds comparison.

Genuine praise encourages and builds up the person to whom it is given.

Pride is everyone’s heart issue. But withholding praise, fearing the arrogance it might birth, does not insure humility. The vacuum leaves room for insecurity, doubt and bitterness.

Here are a few questions to consider as you search to steady your child’s ego.

  • What drives your compliments?
  • Does your praise reinforce something within your children’s control, an action or attitude?
  • Does your compliment build character?

In a me-centered world, I can understand my parent’s hesitation and caution. I want my children to see themselves with the eyes of their Creator, rooted and grounded in the security of God’s approval.

Sincere compliments are important to a child’s upbringing, they promote right and good behavior. Humility is the posture we learn when we exalt Christ to His rightful place. In so doing, we recognize our proper place. This is the goal of a parent’s affirmation.

Moms and dads are privileged to be children’s greatest cheerleaders, placed by God to be a conduit of His encouragement, love and grace.

By: Sylvia Schroeder serves as Women’s Care Coordinator at Avant Ministries. She and her husband raised four children in Italy and Germany, where they were missionaries with Avant. Their children are all married and they have twelve grandchildren. Visit her blog, When the House is Quiet, at  sylviaschroeder.com.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

2 Comments

  1. great

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