Louisa Claire

Read more posted in July, 2011

Hello Gorgeous! Raising Girls and Pretty Talk.

Hello gorgeous! I say these words to Miss Bliss daily, along with telling her that she’s beautiful, sweet and wonderful. She’s my precious girl, sweetheart, darling and love. I tell her that she’s pretty and that I like her outfit and if she puts clips in her hair then I comment on that too.

I also tell her that she’s funny, clever, quirky, interesting and smart. I praise her for demonstrating our family values such as kindness, generosity and empathy. I say “I love you” at least a dozen times a day.

I like to encourage her, I want to know that I can see amazing things in her, and I believe that verbal praise is good for children.

Of course, praise in isolation can be unhealthy (just like anything done in isolation can be) and a child who is told when they do look pretty and when they do not, is likely going to receive that message loud and clear. However, having grown up in a family who were very generous with their words, I think it’s a great gift to give your children.

More and more I’ve been hearing that we shouldn’t tell our girls that we think they are pretty or beautiful; that by commenting on their appearance they will learn that their worth is linked to how attractive others (men) think they are.

The other week a lady stopped to comment on Bear, calling him “gorgeous” and then chastised herself for referring to his appearance. She commented, with some lament, on a recent article she’d read about the damage that can be done to children if you comment on their appearance. It was such a shame that a moment of kindness and obvious delight for this woman cooing over my beautiful boy, was marred by her concern that I wouldn’t like the comment.

The idea that we should let the commercialisation and sexualisation of women (and men) in our community dictate to us how to raise children is completely ridiculous. It’s not the way it should be. I’m not going to let marketers determine how I raise my children.

As I see it, it’s my job as a mum to raise my kids with love and affirmation to enable them to grow into confident adults. That includes every part of them. The point is not to teach them to put great stock in their looks but to tell them every single day that I love them, that I think they are the most wonderful children around, that I look at them and see their beauty, their potential, the spark that makes them, them!

Stuff happens along that way that’s outside our control as parents, but to not tell my daughter that she’s gorgeous lest she develop a complex that her only value comes from her looks?!? What complete rubbish!

I’ll be doing everything in my power to help Bliss avoid the perils of body image and disordered eating that plagues western teenagers, myself included, but you can be damn sure I won’t be doing it by withholding encouragement. How must a child feel when they hear that they are so many things – clever, witty, sporty – but never pretty? It’s not that our society cares about looks and so we have to deal with it (though there is something to that) – of course we can be part of change by promoting other attributes as more valuable than appearance. It’s that we are physical, visual beings; more than that we are relational and sexual beings. No matter what we teach our children about ‘beauty being on the inside’ they are going to see beauty in the world, and they going to find and experience attraction in their lives. Not commenting on this is terribly unfair; not only will they notice the omission and come to their own conclusions about how we see them, we will miss a huge teaching opportunity about how to express this innate aspect of our humanity.

To not tell our daughters they are beautiful may appear to solve one problem, but creates a whole wave of other issues.

For now, I’m off to kiss my girl goodnight, and tell her once more that she’s gorgeous.


good parenting

What about you? What’s your take on “pretty talk”?


You can read a fabulous post on building self-esteem in kids on The Modern Parents blog: 11 Practical Ways Parents Can Help Build Self Esteem


Things I Know…Kids and Family Edition

I know that I really enjoyed some quality time with my little man this week…

I know that I’m annoyed Picasa isn’t working so I can’t show you more pics of my little fireman.

I know that I’ve enjoyed my kids this week.

I know that I hope those in Melb this weekend have a fab time!

I know that my last post was a dud, by the lack of comments. Sorry about that.

I know that I feel guilty about my disorganisation regarding my husbands birthday tomorrow.

I know that I set the standards too high last year, and too low this year.

I know that Bliss would really like to be an Octonaut, and that Captain Barnacle is featuring perhaps too regularly in our play time these days!

I know that I am very excited that we might finally get Bliss’ cast off on Thurs. She has been so amazing these past 8 weeks and I am busting for it to be over for her.


I know that I need to come back to link up properly but that if I don’t post this now it won’t be posted.


How To Find Balance (Part 2)

Since I started thinking about my time in terms of priorities some strange things have happened. Aside from enjoying life a lot more and feeling less guilty about everything I “should” be doing, I’m actually getting more done.


Or not?

I think it’s because I’m doing the things that really matter, and those also happen to be things that I enjoy – quality time with the kids, catching up with friends, working on things that challenge and excite me and *gasp* a little less time on social media.

I don’t know if you read Nathalie’s post about balance, but she talks about passion. You don’t do everything, you do the things you are passionate about.

So, are you doing the things you are passionate about? If not, why not? Is there something you could change that would let you bring a bit of passion into your day?

Here are some questions I have been asking to work through this in my own life:

– What can I outsource? We can’t always afford to do this, but where you can it’s OK not to do everything yourself. It doesn’t make you lazy, indulgent or spoilt. It means you are prioritising the relationships and tasks in your life,and using the resources available to you to do this. For Mums who work 3-5 days a week this could be a really good option.

– How can I be a good friend and grow good friendships by catching up with people more etc? How important is it to me, that I do this? The answer to this is that it’s very important to me, and to do more of this means doing less of something else. I can’t just add it to my life, I have to reassess the priorities and make a change to how I am currently spending my time.

– What does it look like for me to be a good Mum; happy with my parenting & confident that I am giving my children the emotional and practical attention and care that will help them flourish? Obviously there are some embedded priorities for me as a parent that come through in that question, your priorities may be different. It doesn’t really matter what they are, just that you work it out so that you can put your time and energy into those things.

Love to hear your thoughts.


5 Tips For Brushing Your Toddlers Teeth (and does it really matter?)

If brushing your toddlers teeth is anything like it is at my place, it’s one of the most frustrating times of the day. I admit, I can be tempted just to skip the whole routine and save everyone the trauma.

Last week I was lucky enough to talk to Melanie Hayes, President of the NSW Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia and ask her advice on brushing kids’ teeth.

Turns out I’m not the only Mum who finds it a frustrating process, but skipping the brushing or even skimping on it, is a really bad idea. Did you know that kids can get tooth decay in their baby teeth? In fact, 38% of 5-6 year olds in Australia will have tooth decay! That’s a scary statistic for something that is a preventable disease.

If I needed convincing that finding a less traumatic way to do this then that little statistic did the trick. Thankfully Melanie had some suggestions to help.

Melanie’s 5 tips for brushing your toddler’s teeth.

Tip 1. It’s not good for toddlers to swallow toothpaste because it contains fluoride and too much fluoride can be harmful in children. Make sure you use a low fluoride toothpaste and get them to practice spitting with water. Note: babies up to 18months old don’t need toothpaste at all, just use a soft brush and water.

Tip 2: Don’t use too much toothpaste, you need an amount smaller than the size of a pea. The taste of the toothpaste can be off-putting to some kids (or too appealing to others – mine included!)

Tip 3. Toddlers love to copy you, so brush your teeth with them.

Tip 4. Let your toddler brush your teeth, while you brush their’s. (Also a tactic employed by the lovely Zoey from Good Goog)

Tip 5. When it comes to visiting the Dentist, create positive associations with the experience (a funny balloon etc..) and rather than booking an appointment for your toddler, make a family appointment where you go first to show them what will happen, and then they have a turn.

Bonus Tip! To protect your child’s teeth from the sugar in drinks (which, by the way,we should be limiting) let them use a straw so the drink misses their teeth.

How do you find brushing your toddler’s teeth. Have your older kids gotten better at this routine? What tips can you share to make this an easier experience for mother & child?


Thanks to Colgate for hosting such an interesting event and for helping make this part of the day a little bit easier.


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Are You On Facebook?

I spent a bit of time on Facebook over the weekend, something I haven’t done since I got addicted to twitter in a while.

While I was there I had some great chats about Offspring (seems we are all Team Patrick) and I tried out a feature of the Fan Page that I haven’t used before and started a couple of discussions. So, if you’re on Facebook I’d love to you to pop over and say hi, maybe let me know about your fave kids books.

It would also be great if you could take a minute to give this new Mum some advice about how to handle unwanted advice and input on how to parent.


See you there!


How Do You Find Balance In Life?

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance of late. I mistakenly thought that was what I was looking for in this season of my life, but I am now going to join the growing chorus of women who want to reject the idea of balance all together.

What do we even mean by saying we want “balance”? Is it the idea of juggling many different balls in the air at once without dropping them? Even the imagery is exhausting! And yet,  it’s become the catch cry of a generation.

We talk about “balance” in terms of our roles and responsibilities: being partners/wives, mothers, friends, daughters, workers, bosses, cleaners, cooks. We talk about finding the balance between all these roles and commitments, but what do we actually mean?

I think we mean we want to fulfil all our obligations to perfection, or at very least near-perfection. We want to be engaged parents, productive employees, super housewives and attentive & attractive* wives/partners…well actually I think we probably don’t put as much attention on that last one (as perhaps we should?) but I’m throwing it in anyway.

In reality, we end up feeling that if we can “get by” without our children feel neglected, the house being a disaster and the work falling behind then we’re OK. We’re busy and we’re tired but there’s some sort of balance happening in the equation. Maybe.

I’ve come to thing that it’s more helpful to approach these roles and responsibilities in terms of priorities. There are the family priorities and work priorities, personal priorities and spiritual priorities. Whereas the concept of “balance” gives all the different relationships & tasks in our lives equal standing, thinking in terms of priorities leads us to some obvious and liberating implications. The first is, everything won’t get done. The second is, that’s Ok because the things that are important will get done & get done well. Accepting that we may have to let some things go is often the harder part of the equation…

*If you have a partner and children then you have relationships that you are morally bound to nurture & most likely, want to invest in.

*If you work you will have commitments that your are contractually obliged to meet.

*We all have individual needs and desires we wish to pursue – friendships to enjoy, hobbies to pursue and let’s not forget blogging and twitter ;)

*We all have housework to do.

No one can tell you which of these are of greater or lesser importance to you. My hunch is that you instinctively know what you want to be doing, and the things that matter the most to you.

Of course the fact that I have been thinking about this is a reflection of the fact that I’ve not been doing a good job of this myself, I am very much a work in progress.

It all became apparant to me a few weeks ago when I was sick and a friend I made through blogging but whom I had not been in touch with since Jan spent her afternoon cooking and then drove across town through peak hour to drop off three meals. I was so humbled by her kindness. I mean honestly, who does that?? It was quite remarkable and not the only expression of generosity she showed me; her kids also rocked up with a box, a MASSIVE BOX of toys that they thought Bliss might like to play with while she was out of action. Talk about raising great kids.

When I was pregnant I had all these grandiose plans about what I would be like as a Mum (we all know how that turned out, and if you don’t you can read this: What Kind Of Mum Do You Want To Be?)   But the one thing I am not willing to let go of, is that being at home with the kids enables me to be around, able and willing to be a friend, be a support and do things as they came up not with weeks of planning. And I haven’t been doing it.  Leisel’s thoughtfulness not only humbled me but caused me to reflect on my own approach to life and to take more responsibility for how I spend my time.

Side Note: Her kindness didn’t cause me to feel guilty, or tumble in to a spiral or guilt and self pity thinking “why can’t I be like that??” The great thing about focusing on priorities and not balance is that it removes a lot of guilt. What her actions did do was stir in me something that I’ve allowed to be muted, and I am deeply grateful for that.

I don’t want to “balance” my life and feel like I am constantly losing the battle. Life will always be a ‘work in progress’ and there will be seasons of life when there are competing priorities that stretch me and make life uncomfortable and exhausting. But it’s not just about how life is now but about the type of life I want to create over a lifetime. So, I’m throwing the concept of balance in the bin.

What about you? How do you “do life”?

*I do not mean this in terms of appearance, or conforming to our society’s notion of attractiveness. I mean, keeping the spark alive with your partner.


If you’re interested in this topic you might like to check out Nathalie Browns post Balancing Life. Nathalie is a Child Behaviour Consultant who guest posted on this blog last week talking about parenting styles.