Mom, Am I Ugly? Ten Things Parents Can Do When Their Child Asks

Lisa Cherry —  July 30, 2012

Ugly post 920635_imperfectionBy Lisa Cherry

Eight of our ten kids have hit adolescence so far. Over the years of parenting, I have faced this inevitable question.

Some ask it straight up…..Mom, do you think I am ugly?

Others have pieced through sections of their body to ask the same thing.  ….Mom, do you think my nose/hair/ forehead/ foot, etc. is ugly?

Are you like me looking for some strategies to counter their pain? Here are my best ones even as my budding teen hit me with that question just this week.

1.  Recognize that your credibility, as a mom or dad, is not very high in your child’s mind as you tell them….Of course, you are not ugly! Everyone knows that parents and especially mothers always think their own babies are beautiful.

2.  Understand your vital role as a parent to help them wrestle with this human question. Do not leave this job to the media or friends.

3.  Explain to them the difference in our feelings and the objective truth. Anorexics feel fat but the objective truth says they are way too thin.

4.  Tell them you remember struggling with this same issue. Helping them know they are normal to face this question can ease anxiety.

5.  Accept that the resolution of this body image question takes time. We all want to quickly snap our children out of pain instantly, but life rarely works that way.

6.  Teach your kids (before adolescence) that the issue of “beauty”—though a God designed concept—has in our culture been perverted. Do not, in an attempt to shield kids from perversion, make it seem God is against beauty.

7.  Look to the scriptures to learn what God’s definition of beauty truly is. Start with Psalm 139:14, 1 Samuel 16:7,1 Peter 3:3-4, Psalm 34:5, Proverbs 31:30, Ecclesiastes 3:11, and Romans 8:6

8.  Recognize that some of our child’s/teen’s struggle might be justified. All of us have human flaws that we must learn to accept as “us.”

9.  Discover whether some of their body loathing is actually a signal to make a change. “Hating” ourselves is a lousy motivator for taking care of our own health and adjusting our behaviors that affect physical looks.

10.  Pray earnestly for your child’s/teen’s spiritual development. Living a life of peace with Jesus will cause the beauty of the Lord to overtake their outer man struggles.

How have you helped your children through this rite of passage?  Have you found any scripture passages that were especially dear to you on the subject of beauty and body image?


Image courtesy of Bruno Sersocima

Linked to Sharing His Beauty, Welcome Home, The Better Mom, Visionary WomanhoodModest Mondays, Titus 2sDays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Loving our Children Tuesday, Top Ten Tuesdays, Works for Me Wednesday, Women Living Well.

  • Lynne

    Great tips, and great list of scriptures. Another one is Psalm 45:11—So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him.

  • HarringtonHarmonies

    What a difficult topic to write on. I have two older children, one barely still teen. Parents have a real challenge here. Speaking from experience, I found that many times...what I said really never helped. (#1) But that love and support can. Consistent patience with which I often fail but with God's grace come back to. Offering resources outside of being you, such as a counselor or trusted friend can also be helpful.

  • Stephanie

    I love this. As a mom of 3 girls, one of whom is a preteen, this topic does come up at our house. I remember having the same thoughts as a kid. Great tips for navigating a sensitive topic.

  • ‘Becca

    Great article! From my own experience as a teen, I have to say: Don't dodge the question! When it is asked as a direct question about YOUR opinion, make sure to say, "No, I don't think you're ugly," along with whatever else you say or ask. I spent a lot of my adolescence feeling like the world was filled with ugly truths that people were hiding from me; when I asked my dad if he thought I was pretty and he said something like, "Many girls your age are anxious about their appearance, but our society puts far too much emphasis on appearances, and really it's far more important to be intelligent..." I felt pretty sure I must be hideous. 😀 It seems funny now, but it didn't at the time.