I was never one for makeup -- and have all of five minutes to get myself ready each morning. So, when it comes to primping, I don't pay much attention, but when it comes to what's inside, I'm always preaching to my daughter that this is what's really important. I try to make sure she understands that being thoughtful and caring are, in so many ways, more important than making sure her outfit works well. Though, let's be honest, I'm not letting her walk out the door if her pigtails aren't perfectly parted ... but that's due more to OCD than beauty obsession!
Below, Christina Carlino, the founder of Philosophy Skincare, talks about some basic things she does with her family to make sure they maintain a healthy balance of beauty on the inside.
- Talk About Beautiful Things: My family and I decided to share daily the most beautiful things we witnessed during the day. At dinner, when we talked about our day, we consciously pointed out all the magnificent things -- from rainbows to shady green trees to blue jays -- as well as all the acts of joy and kindness we noticed: A child holding open a door for an old man, a waiter drawing an intricate picture on a restaurant chalkboard, a woman delivering a basket of homegrown oranges to a homeless woman. This ritual became as important as our prayer of thanks before dinner.
- Model Kindness and Respect: My family and I treat everyone with respect and kindness, from the gardener who mows our lawn to the toothless man asking for a handout to each other, even when we're really angry. "A child has to see his parents' values in actions," says family therapist Dr. Irene Goldenberg. "If you act falsely or disrespectfully to people or you base your attitude toward somebody on their status or wealth, your child will pick up on that and eventually reproduce that behavior. By showing kindness to everyone and seeing everyone's inner value, you set the standard."
- Use Words to Communicate Your Values: I've realized that children need experiences framed for them verbally. If a child ever questions why you like someone who's physically unappealing or not from your economic class or social standing, explain to her in plain language what your values are, says Dr. Goldenberg. "Make clear that you appreciate Mrs. So and So because she's a good friend, she's responsible, she's caring. Help your child develop a sense of whether people have deep qualities or superficial ones."
- See the Beauty in All Things Great and Small: When you're outside with your children, help them connect to all the insects and animals that you encounter -- not just the cute ones, like puppies and horses, but also the ones that sometimes make us adults squirm. Turn over stones and look for bugs; explain how their hard work helps keep the soil for our flowers and fruit trees healthy. Point out the intricate detail in a spider's web. Note a bee's lovely stripes and explain that its work flying from flower to flower brings us honey and keeps the flowers blooming. Focus on the positive aspects of things, their usefulness, their place in this world.
"Appreciating the beauty in insects or worms, creatures that might repulse us, helps children develop love and respect for all living beings," says Susan Usha Dermond, author of Calm and Compassionate Children. The next time they encounter a homeless woman, they might notice her kind eyes instead of her ragged clothes.
- Do Something Small for Yourself Every Day: I've learned to carve out time for myself. Time to exercise, clean up my eyebrows, indulge in a home facial, pull together a nice outfit -- whatever makes me feel good. At night my daughter and I hold hands and count our many blessings and pray for the world to be healed with love.
Cristina Carlino recently published The Changing Room, an interactive journal intended as a keepsake for your little one -- when they're all grown up. The best part -- 100% of the proceeds go to Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation, which is committed to healing, educating, and empowering survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.