Thursday, November 19, 2015

Parents, tell your children how you feel

I was reading Our Town, by Thornton Wilder to prepare for my AP Lit students Christmas reading selection and ran across the following passage in ACT I.
     EMILY:Mama, am I good looking?
     MRS. WEBB:Yes, of course you are. All my children have got good features; I'd be ashamed if they hadn't.
     EMILY:Oh, Mama, that's not what I mean. What I mean is: am I pretty?
     MRS. WEBB:I've already told you, yes. Now that's enough of that. You have a nice young pretty face. I never heard of such foolishness.
     EMILY:Oh, Mama, you never tell us the truth about anything.
     MRS. WEBB:I am telling you the truth.
     EMILY:Mama, were you pretty?
     MRS. WEBB:Yes, I was, if I do say it. I was the prettiest girl in town next to Mamie Cartwright.
     EMILY:But, Mama, you've got to say something about me. Am I pretty get get people interested in me?
     MRS. WEBB:Emily, you make me tired. Now stop it. You're pretty enough for all normal purposes.--Come along now and bring that bowl with you.
     EMILY:Oh, Mama, you're no help at all.
No help indeed. I am embarrassed for Mrs. Webb. She had the opportunity, an opportunity to build her daughter's confidence and show her how much she is loved and valued. But instead he gets annoyed, passes off Emily's concern, and scolds her. Not the best parent in my opinion. Mrs. Webb has things to say about her own beauty, but chooses to just tell her daughter that she is "pretty enough for all normal purposes." Gee, thanks Mom; whatever that means.

People, don't be like this parent. Tell your children that they are beautiful and handsome and pretty and wonderful. Heaven knows they need that kind of affirmations, especially when they enter their formative teenager and early adult years. Don't be a "Mrs. Webb."

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