May 30, 2005

Is it good for young children to believe they are cute?

This is a belief parents inspire in their kids, some more than others. A lot more.

UPDATE: Oh, good, they're gone.

15 comments:

David Manus said...

The Inscrutable Doctor Althouse

Joan said...

Ha!

My kids know that they're cute, but they also know that being cute on the outside doesn't excuse being vile on the inside, or behaving badly...

Meade said...

Seems to me that believing they are cute can't possibly be as bad as believing they are many of the other things so many children today seem to believe they are -- such as -- the one and only center of the universe.

Ann Althouse said...

When I wrote that post, I was sitting near a child who was acting excessively cute, obviously encouraged by her parents, and utterly incapable of knowing how idiotic she appeared to people who didn't know her. IIn my opinion, her parents had done her a disservice.

It's one thing for a child to believe she's good and lovable, quite another for a child to engage in cutesy behavior because it causes her parents to beam at her. I'm afraid she's going to be quite confused when she discovers that sort of behavior doesn't make new people think she's wonderful.

jinnmabe said...

Ah, I see you meant "behaving" cute, as opposed to being physically cute. I think my kids are very, very cute physically, but they don't always act that way. I don't know that it will hurt them for me to tell them they are beautiful (while still avoiding the Seinfeld-ish "you gotta see the BAY-bee" with other people).

Could you be more specific as to the age of the child and what exactly they were doing? A one year old can get away with "cute" behavior more often than a four year old.

Ann Althouse said...

It's fine for you to think they're cute. My problem is with parents who interact with their kids in a way that conveys to the kids that they ought to think of themselves as cute.

The kid I felt had been done a disservice was perhaps 6.

henny said...

Aaaah, I see. I think I'm starting to get the problems with "cute". Reminds me of a time when I was sitting in an adorable, small and quiet cafe in my neighborhood. A Dutch mother enters with her children and another friend while she lets her 3 -4 year old kids run wild. They scream, they bang their heads against the glass door that I am sitting next to, they throw sugar packets across the cafe, all the time while the mothers just stand their and smile at the "cuteness" of their children. I was even more apalled when another mother, a stranger, starts talking "cutesy" to the child banging his head against the door - "Are you a doooor man?!!! Are you a cute little dooooor man???"

Absolutely nauseating and not cute. My mother never would have let me get away with that.

nappy40 said...

I met a person for whom the comment, "oh, your daughter is so pretty," was not a compliment. It was close to an insult or a suggestion that the girl was less than intelligent.

HaloJonesFan said...

nappy40: On the other hand, that sort of thing sounds more like the stereotypical hyper-feminist "what, you mean my daughter's LOOKS are the ONLY IMPORTANT THING ABOUT HER?! Why not just CHAIN HER TO THE WALL so she doesn't LEARN TO THINK INDEPENDENTLY!"

HaloJonesFan said...

Oh, the original post? Well, there's "I am cute", and there's "I am a beautiful and unique snowflake and nothing I do can ever be wrong, it's only my free independent spirit expressing itself as I run around and goose strangers because I like to watch them jump."

Slac said...

Hmm. No, it's not good at all.

Cuteness is an innocence that inspires love and affection. When you know you're cute, you're no longer innocent and no longer cute. While manipulating your cuteness, you no longer inspire love and affection from others. And we could use more of those.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with kids believing that they are cute is that they use it to get away with things that they shouldn't. Obvious, from what all above are saying.

But to continue - part of what I consider good parenting is not letting them get away with this. Not just because what you think is cute in your kid, others most often think is bratty.

But even more, in that it gives exactly the wrong message to the kids - just do cute things when you are bad, and you can get away with them.

I see a lot of parenting as going against your natural inclinations when going with them would be counterproductive.

Bruce Hayden said...

But is this really any different from letting some women get away with a lot, just because they are beautiful?

Add to this, that beautiful children are much more likely to be considered cute by other than their parents.

TWM said...

That's why I always told my kids there were ugly as hell -- made em work harder.

(Joking -- before you call childrens services on me)

Be said...

Wandering Mind: In all seriousness, I know of people whose parents have said stuff like that. One in particular's mom told her daughter something to the effect of her making d@mn sure that she learned to use her brains, because she wasn't going to get anywhere on her looks.

I consider that and what Nappy 40 commented on to be two sides of the same coin.