I have three girls. When they were little I was all about the hair bows, the ruffled socks, and the cute shoes. I loved getting them ready for the day. They were so cute!

It was so easy back then.  I thought they were beautiful. Their daddy thought they were beautiful. In their little world, who else mattered?

Ah, but little girls grow up. They become sixth graders. Have you ever met a sixth grade little girl? They are just beautiful. They are gangly and unique. They are natural and fresh. They are awkward and wearing braces. They are stuck between a little girl and all grown up.

Like I said, they’re beautiful.

I remember like it was yesterday when my daughter, who is now 18, was in sixth grade. She used to get ready for school in my bathroom every morning.

One morning she was fixing her hair. She first put it up in a ponytail, then huffed in disgust, and took down. Then she curled it. Then she straightened it. Then she pulled it back. She was getting more and more frustrated with her hair. I offered to help.

She said, “Mom, I hate my hair.” I couldn’t believe my ears. This was my kid who was born with a full head of beautiful dark hair. Total strangers would stop me to tell me how beautiful her hair was. She undeniably had the most beautiful hair in our family, and yet when she looked in the mirror, she hated her hair.

Clearly she was not seeing what I saw.

Our girls need us to reflect back to them the truth about who they are. There is so much more to them than what they look like. They were created to be so much more than a pretty face. But this world works against them. It reflects something totally different back to them.

In the eyes of the world, our girls don’t measure up. They aren’t thin enough, tall enough, or beautiful enough.

Very few women make it through those early years completely unscathed. But if our girls are to grow up and thrive with confidence in spite of the standards of this world, they need our help.

Here are a few ideas:

Recognize and praise their non-appearance strengths.
Are they a fast runner, a great friend, a creative writer, or an excellent dancer? Celebrate the qualities that make them unique.

Encourage and teach them how to take care of themselves.
Teach them that they need to get enough rest, exercise, eat right, shower, take care of their skin, and brush their teeth. When these things are lacking, it takes a toll on their confidence.

Don’t allow yourself to obsess, publically talk about, or criticize the physical flaws of your girls.
As moms we can be the worst. Imagine a mom talking to Aunt Betty….“Have you seen Sarah’s front tooth? It sticks way out in the front and it’s huge!” We look at it like it’s a medical or dental issue to be taken care of. Braces are a good thing! We have to remember that our words are a reflection back to our daughters of how we view them.

Celebrate uniqueness.
Point out the unique qualities that you see in them that make them special. We all know that young girl who looks ordinary to the average observer, but when she smiles, the whole room lights up. Point out and celebrate the differences more than you celebrate the sameness.

Teach your daughter from the beginning that God made them.
What if your daughter grew up believing that the God of the universe who created her uniquely knew her by name, had a plan for her life, and loved her? How would this change the way that she viewed herself and her purpose in this world?

Some of our girls will struggle with this more than others. It’s our job as parents to keep reflecting back to them a healthy and true sense of who they are and who God created them to be.