Our latest Parenting Styles post from our contributor Jessica is on a topic I haven’t quite breached with my daughter, but likely will soon.
So I’m so interested in her perspective as well as what you guys think!
How do you convince a seven year old to enjoy being a kid?
That it all goes by in the blink of an eye, that before she knows it, she’ll be a teenager, and then a college student, and then her 20s and 30s will blur past?
Because my daughter wants to be older. Desperately.
She wears an old pair of my sunglasses, which were oversized on me and are hilariously huge on her. She pleads to wear makeup, and even with seriously limited access, soaks up the mannerisms of TV characters, and worse, YouTube vloggers (ugh).
She has a hand-me-down iPhone with no plan. At home, it’s connected to Wifi, and she can get online. For a while, she wanted to watch clips from movies like “High School Musical” and the like.
I can’t stand those dumb movies, but she loves the song sequences, so, whatever. Fine. Enjoy.
But YouTube is tricky! All those video suggestions along the side took her from music clip to music clip to… makeup tutorials?
By the time we noticed that she had stopped singing and dancing around and was planted on the sofa glued to her phone – not long! – it was too late. She started asking if she could watch tutorials for the perfect cat eye, or how to apply lip liner.
The problem is, some of the girls making these ridiculous videos are like the very worst caricatures of teenage girls. And my daughter, the sponge, just soaked it all up in the limited time she had to watch before I stepped in.
From the hair flip to that grating vocal fry to the justification for bronzer and foundation, it’s bad. Really, really bad.
And when she took a sudden, intense interest in her own appearance, complete with a new selfie obsession, I immediately blamed those videos.
The trouble is, well, I wear makeup too. And when she perches on the counter, asking why I wear this or what that’s for, I tell her the truth.
While she plays with clean brushes, swirling them across her checks and dusting her eyelids, and I dab on concealer and a bit of bronzer, then darken my brows and brush on mascara, I tell her that wearing makeup is a way to highlight features you like. I tell her it makes me feel nice when I look nice.
Well, that has backfired. Hugely.
“Moooom, I want to highlight my eyes! You can’t even see my eyebrows, can I pleeeeease use your brow kit? Look how pale my lips are! I need some of your lip stain.”
What? No. You are seven.
Seven year olds don’t need defined brows.
And your lips are fine. Stop it.
Because I am unmoved. Makeup on a little girl is inappropriate, I’m sorry. It doesn’t enhance, it distracts. It’s trying too hard to be something she hasn’t yet become.
Kids should be kids, not mini adults.
But it’s not just about makeup. For a while, whenever we were about to leave the house, she would ask me in this anxious tone, “Do I look good?”
At first, I played along. I told her she looked great, she’s my daughter, she always looks great to me.
But this tittering little thing she was doing in front of the mirror started to irritate me, and my responses changed.
“G, it doesn’t matter how you look! We’re just going to the grocery store! Knock it off, and let’s go!”
Probably not the right response, you know? We live in an appearance-obsessed society, I get it. It’s the age of the selfie, God help us.
I just didn’t think my seven year old would notice so soon. I’m not sure what else to do, besides staying firm on my stance that she can’t wear makeup until she’s older, and continuing to praise her for things that have nothing to do with her looks.
In a world where her appearance is constantly – constantly – remarked upon, by everyone from her grandparents to the grocery store clerk to the friendly old lady walking down the street, I want her to understand that her value has nothing to do with her body, or her hair, or her face.
I want her to enjoy being a kid, without the pressure of looking a certain way. I want her to focus on nailing that back bend into a kickover, or finishing her goal of five books this summer, or getting her blue senior belt.
So I’ll keep commending her for that stuff, the stuff she can control, and pray like hell she learns the difference.
More Parenting Posts from MPMK
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As a writer, editor, redhead and mom of four (without a redhead in the bunch), Jessica is a decade deep in the insane, sleep-deprived world of work-from-home mamas. Even when she has to hide in the bathroom for a client call, she wouldn’t change a thing.
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