To Smile or Not to Smile

The topic I am about to discuss will offend some parents, however put yourselves in your child or childrens shoes for once.

“Smile!” this infamous word used right before a moment to be captured either in photos taken by some parents, for school photos, or by others. The word so overused and so pressured it takes away from the genuine expression. It saddens me that children especially are forced in schools and otherwise to smile. If they wish to smile then great but if they just rather not then let them be themselves. 

The other week my child did not look forward to school photos. He said that school officials tell the children “you must smile because smiles are prettier”. He also stated that he would just smile so he would not get in trouble. He even had a sticker put on his shirt as he got out of school for the day that read something on the lines of “Smile picture day is tomorrow”. I was internally upset that I took the sticker off his shirt and threw it away. Literally. We tell him many times to be himself and that is all that matters. Yet other people try to instill fear into children because of a facial gesture! Really?! What has society come to? There is nothing wrong with a child if he or she prefers to have a photo with a small grin or no smile at all. It doesn’t mean they are upset or weird or unhappy. Our child told us as well that other children also do not want to “smile” all the time and it bothers them being forced. This is something that also starts at home people! Children take in everything around them like sponges and so many adults want kids to be these perfect little creatures molded into societies expectations. How about taking a look at your own flaws for once and give some of these children a break! Does our child smile in some photos? Of course! However it is not forced it is genuine. Besides, the sweetest photos of children and people in general are those where they are just captured in the moment. 

Children unfortunately have enough pressure on them as it is. The least any of us parents and people can do is let them be themselves. Is that too complicated? It shouldn’t be. Please remember children are precious and human too. Not robots.

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