My family and I got together with a friend and her family to swim at one of Cape Cod’s most beautiful beaches. Needless to say we had a wonderful time.
But my friend told me a disturbing story she heard about young kids at a particular camp she sent her own kids to. A number of the campers, she said, had no qualms about calling their counselors fat.
I’m not naïve, but I couldn’t believe my ears. I know that kids can be mean to one another. But to their counselors? Why would they behave this way? The obvious answer is that they overhear this kind of talk from their parents or, at the very least, their parents permit this kind of talk. The deeper question as to why people can be intentionally cruel I’m not even going to touch.
But how these kids apparently viewed others, that I do want to raise. As a parent, I truly believe that we should instill in our children an appreciation for beauty. I don’t think the answer is to teach that beauty doesn’t matter. It’s in our nature to admire it.
But that should never translate into abhoring anything that, in someone’s opinion, isn’t beautiful. Rather we should teach our children that beauty displays itself in many ways. So instead of fixating on the negatives that they may see in others (or themselves), they could admire them for the beautiful traits they do have — be them physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, artistic, etc.
The next step is not just having our kids see people with keener, more admiring eyes, but to teach them to feel comfortable verbalizing their compliments. Try that on a bunch of pre-teens!