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When They Stop Being Cute

Tis the season of family portraits and Christmas cards.

Sweet toddlers with rosy cheeks and saggy diaper bottoms pose on Santa’s lap or dressed up under a tree. Babies with angel wings, preschoolers with's a parade of preciousness.

Everyone "oohs and ahs" over who has the cutest child.

Until they aren’t cute anymore.

There comes a day when their first pimple arrives, their body is growing awkwardly, makeup is being explored and you have to gently tell them two eyebrows are truly more attractive than one long continuous one.

It's also about this time when you need to inform them about hygiene, and if you have a son, the misuse of Axe Body Spray.

And in this same period your children become acutely aware they don’t feel very cute anymore.

They no longer want a family portrait.

Even if you take one, there's a good chance the once too adorable smile is shrouded behind their brooding posture.

They're petrified that some distant relative will mention “how big they have gotten.” In case you didn’t know, in tween speak this is translated as, “You’re fat.”

Here's the tension in case you're missing it: They aren’t cute right now.

Not in their own minds, anyway.

The new pair of glasses, mouthful of braces and feet that are a little too big for their body is not “endearing” as far as they are concerned.

YET, this is also the time when they need the most reassurance.

They need to hear that they aren’t going to be awkward forever.

But we reassure them with the line “You’ll get past these years.” That’s worse, because what they hear instead is “So you ARE saying I’m hideous.”

Sure, we should focus on character more deeply and tell them what's amazing about their talents, gift and soul. But as the parent of three teens, let me tell you as they look in the mirror they're not saying, “I look so compassionate today.”

So what do we do?

Even as they complain, keep posting pictures that celebrate them.

Tell them their favorite shirt makes them look the opposite of their insecurity.

The day you see on their face they are happy with their looks, NOTICE IT.

Let them know that during this time when they feel ugly, you as their parent know they’re not.

Nope, they aren’t babies anymore, but you're still glad they're your kids.


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