Pretty girl must be more than that

My daughter is beautiful.

This is not bloated dad-talk. She is, by every objective standard of judgment, a gorgeous kid.

On the flight back from Guatemala, where she was adopted, a flight attendant begged to hold the then-8-month-old, then paraded the child up and down the cabin. People gawked and smiled.

It’s been that way ever since. Just the other day, during trick-or-treating, neighbors seemed to be giving her extra candy, based on her looks.

This is a problem.

How do you teach a child not to rely on pretty face when she already knows – by the constant acclamation of others – how lovely she is? It’s not that she’s conceited. Far from it. But it’s not hard, even for a youngster, to understand the power that beauty conveys in our culture.

When I speak with her, I emphasize her smarts, her math skills, her kind heart, her memory (stunningly accurate), and her other attributes. I will tell her that she looks nice, but only after she’s cleaned and dressed herself (to impart important daddy lessons of hygiene and self-reliance).

For many parents, a child’s looks are a reflection of them. But an adoptive dad cannot take credit for his daughter’s room-lighting smile. Two attractive Central Americans made my baby the way she is.

There is, of course, a practical part of me that knows that beautiful people get ahead in life – better pay, more frequent promotions, deferential treatment, etc. How could a father not want those things for his kid?

Well, because he doesn’t want a vain woman to sprout from the pretty girl. Let her work for her success, let her fight like the rest of us.

Then she’ll be accomplished. And lovely.