Dear Parents: Please Praise Your Child’s Looks

Complimenting your kids on anything BUT looks sends an unhealthy message.

Laura Rosell
8 min readApr 28


Little girl with long, black hair in striped dress, looking at herself in the mirror
Photo by Monstera on Pexels

I’ve noticed a troubling trend among millennial parents. I see it in how some of my acquaintances talk about their children on social media. While the parents will gush about practically all the amazing qualities the child has — caring, smart, funny, sweet, inquisitive, strong, athletically gifted, spunky, honest, tenacious, capable, talented, creative, helpful, deep-thinking — they will not, under any circumstances, acknowledge that they think their child is cute or pretty.

As in, they never, ever dare to use words like “adorable,” “beautiful,” or anything related to physical appearance at all.

It’s awkward to watch parents backbend painfully around this issue, saying everything but affirming words about their kid’s physical features. As if a looks-based compliment is a bad compliment to make.

Looks are skin-deep. Subjective. Temporary. I get this. Even more problematic, looks are often weaponized to make people (especially female and femme people) feel bad about themselves. Looks are also sometimes overvalued (again, especially when the face in question belongs to female people) to the extent that other qualities of deeper substance end up overlooked and devalued. I agree that it’s good to ensure that children grow up knowing they are so much more than their appearance. That their worth isn’t tied to their face, nor will their worth wane as their appearance changes with the passing of the years.

But even newborns have a sense for aesthetics in a human face, so early in life that it can’t possibly be socially conditioned. Quite simply, while some of our definitions of beauty are (highly) culturally subjective, our appreciation for beauty is a natural human universal. Thus, I believe we do damage to young people when we treat beauty (and I use “beauty” here in the broadest sense) as unspeakable. When we act like allllllll their other qualities are allowed to be praised — except that one. Oh, no, never that one!

Is it honestly so bad to let your child know that the very sight of them brings a smile?



Laura Rosell

Love, sex, dreams, soul, adventure, healing, feeling. Available for projects.