My 9-year-old daughter wants to enter a beauty pageant. I told her no; it goes against my values to have her participate in an event that I feel objectifies young girls. She is really angry with me. Help!
"I agree with the mother totally, that it's not necessarily something you want to promote," says Fugen Neziroglu, a psychologist who is director of Bio-Behavioral Institute in Great Neck and has worked with adolescents on body image.
She suggests that you explain your concerns to your daughter about the emphasis our society places on appearance and encourage her to be proud of other things in her life and not just how nice she looks.
Assure her that you find her beautiful, and that you aren't discouraging her because you secretly think she won't do well. Discuss with her what your family does value, whether it's good grades, excelling in athletics or conquering a musical instrument.
Give her a few days to talk to her friends about what you said and see what they think, Neziroglu suggests. Sometimes, friends can help kids see things in a different light, but they also may encourage her to give it a shot. If your daughter continues to vehemently insist that this is something she really wants to do, Neziroglu would let her try one.
"If she wants to, I would let her have that experience," she says. "It's not the most harmful thing in the world to be in a beauty contest."