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24/01/2012 / melgardener

The “I love you because…” game

Last night I decided to introduce a new game over dinner. Now, I’ll say upfront that we rarely encourage games or playing during meals – it’s hard enough getting them to focus on eating without added distraction. But this was a discussion game and I thought it might make a change from our usual “How was your day?” “Good” dinner table conversation.

I told the girls we would take it in turns to tell the other people at the table why we loved them with a sentence starting (unoriginally) “I love you because…”

I could almost see their eyes light up – they just knew this would be an easy game. Then I dropped the bombshell.

The characteristic they chose couldn’t relate to how the other person looked.

Now, for two girls obsessed with fairies, princesses, dancing, makeup, jewellery and bling, this must have seemed an insurmountable task. Which, of course, is exactly why I did it.

I don’t believe my children are unduly focussed on their looks but I am aware that they focus very heavily on exterior characteristics when deciding who and what they like. If asked why they like Tinkerbell, for example, they’ll tell you she’s pretty. If asked why Barbie is a favourite, I’ll often hear about her hair or clothes. And so on.

So I wanted to challenge them to look a bit deeper at the people they know very well. I think with siblings and close family members it’s easy to forget to look at who they really are as a person because they are always around. In a way, we take these people for granted because of both our physical and geographical closeness.

I’m happy to report that, after a few false starts, my girls cottoned on to the game with gusto and we spent quite a long time complimenting each other about all our qualities that don’t relate to how we look.

Some commentators believe strongly that we should never tell girls they are pretty or beautiful for fear they will develop a complex about their looks and this could lead to larger issues such as eating disorders. I’m not so sure about this – purely from a practical perspective.

To me – my girls are beautiful and they always will be. I don’t think telling them that is going to harm them…as long as I also recognise, compliment and celebrate all the qualities that go into making them who they are – their laugh, strength, sense of humour, kindness, compassion, generosity, talents and so much more.

It was particularly gratifying to hear the girls choose special qualities about their sister – particularly after the regular sibling squabbles we’ve been dealing with during the holidays when too much time together has caused rifts to develop.

This is a game we’ll definitely repeat.

How do you feel about complimenting girls on their looks? Do you have daughters and, if so, what strategy do you employ?

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