There’s an aspect of my mother’s parenting I will forever cherish –and admire. When I grew into my pre-teen phase, where societal expectations invaded my thoughts, and the media portrayed perfect-skinned actors with ideal lives, I was slightly disarmed.
With confusion seeping through every pore, I asked my mother a question on most pre-teen minds: “Am I pretty?”
I’ve never experienced an alternative way of growing up, so I cannot conclude this for certain, but I’d assume the average parent would reply, “Of course, honey, you’re beautiful” or something along those lines. (Or perhaps I’m completely delusional and the damage of watching too much television in my youth is finally exposed).
Not my mother.
“Looks mean nothing in the long run; it’s all about quality.”
Disappointed by my lack of answer, I reflected upon my mother’s words. A key thing to note is her use of the word “quality” over “achievement,” which I’d imagine to have a detrimental impact, if chosen. To use the word “achievement,” I believe, would’ve done a lifetime of damage –a constant pressure to attain perfect grades, regardless of the circumstances; an abundance of certificates and materialistic awards and status-orientated thought-processes.
But the fact remains: quality remains more important than looks.
My pre-teen self acknowledge the following attributes as qualities (derived, of course, from my mother’s own personal values and morals):
All qualities presented by both my society and religion, but things I embraced as of greater importance than the flesh I wear on the outside.
I often wonder what would occur if my mother would’ve said a stereotypical “yes” or “no.” If she said “yes,” perhaps I’d be remotely satisfied, but perhaps felt pressured to maintain this beauty? Likewise, I’d imagine myself to be disheartened with a “no” and plenty of arising self-esteem issues. My mother gave me the best answer possible. A goal of “qualities” to work towards and an ambition to become a better person.
This event changed my perception of life; the strong influence of an authority figure is eerie.
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