She says the exact same words every time. “Momma, I’m going to do some magic.”  She utters these words, before steppping into the bedroom and looking at herself in the mirror. And it is something she does at least a few times a day. My five year old girl loves to fix her hair and check her face. Is this normal? I don’t remember the mirror being a part of my childhood.

And I must confess I am a little concerned that she is so worried about her appearance at such a young age. In quiet moments, I ask, “Where is she learning this behavior?” It isn’t from me. I am a pony-tail,  jeans and a t-shirt type of gal. The most makeup I wear on any given day is a dash of powder and some lipstick. And I even apply those things without her watching me.

There are also other things she’s said that have me wondering where this beauty obsession is born. In the last few months, she’s said, “Momma, blue eyes and blond hair are more pretty than my hair or eyes” or “How come I don’t have light skin? It is better.” These statements really baffle me because, at least I thought, my husband and I do a decent job of emphasizing that differences are something that are a part of life and that should be embraced. And that skin color isn’t the deciding factor of everything. It is important to be smart, kind, loving, caring, and responsible. That you should do all those things, no matter what you look like.

Perhaps I’m placing too much emphasis on what she is saying and doing. She is five years old. She doesn’t know everything. It’s a phase, I tell myself. She will grow out of it. She will learn to appreciate what she has, instead of pining for what she believes is “beautiful.” I am banking on that because the alternative scares me. I certainly don’t want to raise a young girl who is consumed by her looks. I’ve always believed beauty is something that is so fleeting, transient, and transparent. I want her to learn that lesson early.

But I am at a loss. I thought I was already teaching her that lesson. These glimpses into her mind, ultimately, is a comment on how we strive to parent the best way we know how, but even then, there are no guarantees. And there is that possibility that we may fail to instill the values that as parents we covet. Because although our children are a product of us, they are individuals. They determine what matters to them, no matter what their parents may want them to think. Or maybe I am obsessing too much. That my husband and I are instilling values in her and she will remember those lessons as she grows older. Right now she is just too young too appreciate those lessons. There is also that chance that maybe as parents we are doing the right kind of a magic.

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As parents do you have these battles? Does your little one obssess about his or her looks? Any advice? How do you instill values that are important to you in your children?

Image by Amy Jeffries

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