…These Qualities You Possess

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):

  • Kindness
  • Hard-working
  • Empathetic
  • Honest

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.




7 thoughts on “…These Qualities You Possess

  1. I love this. My mother is the same. The advice she gives me is pure genius except it takes me a long time to realize it. For the longest time while I was dancing, she would just tell me “Do your best”. And I was always like.. WHY CAN”T YOU JUST TELLL ME IM GOING TO BE GREAT! lol but then I realized that she hit the nail on the head. Just takes time sometimes i guess.

  2. A parents reply to an honest question sets the tone for the rest of the child’s life. You are correct in saying this is the best answer she could have given to you. It offered you a chance to become the best person you could become. You could become a stuck up arrogant person to a person who had a very low self esteem that would have done more damage than anyone could imagine. Nice post it offers us the same opportunity to respond to our own offspring.

  3. Pingback: Bookish Survey 2014 | Ramisa the Authoress

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