I was at an event with my daughter the other day.
There were other parents with younger children there as well.
My 18 yr. old daughter was helping to take care of the younger children with other volunteers.
At the end of the event the kids all came in front of the audience
and put on a little performance for us.
It was a sweet show and the kids really enjoyed themselves.
My daughter really doesn’t like to get on stage or speak in front of a group.
All the other volunteers we’re getting up to introduce the kids.
She was supposed to get up and speak as well.
My Daughter Was Stressed and Came To Me For Support
She came in and sat down next to me and I could see she was stressed.
She looked up at me and said “Dad, I really don’t want to do this.”
She had been working with the kids all day,
She didn’t want to let the other’s down because she cares,
but this last bit of actually getting up in front of everybody she didn’t want to do.
I looked into her eyes and put a hand on her shoulder and said
She understood immediately what I meant
because this is the message I have given her from day one.
That she should always honor her feelings and desires.
That it is good for her to know herself,
believe in herself
and honor herself.
Even at 18 years old it is still helpful for her
to have someone she loves remind her
to love and accept herself just as she is.
In fact I am 46 and I still need my friends and loved ones
to remind me of this important fact from time to time.
How To Teach Your Kids To NOT Accept Themselves As They Are
As the young kids were marching up to the front of the room to put on their performance they were all supposed to be wearing the tie dye shirts they had made the day before.
One young girl around 5 or 6 years old didn’t want to put hers on.
I have no idea why, but her desire was very clear.
Across the room her mother yelled out “Put on the shirt”.
The girl said no and her mother responded
“Just put it on for the performance. You have to wear it, everyone else is.”
The young girl was visibly upset and actually refused to put the shirt on.
(Good for her!)
Pay Attention To The Underlying Message
I know the mother just wanted her to have the shirt on
and be a part of the performance like everyone else.
The problem is the message she was sending to her daughter
was that she was Not ok just as she was.
That her desire was Not acceptable.
That her feelings about her own body
and how it should be treated we’re Not valid.
These are wildly dangerous concepts to teach to a young person
and if I may say, especially to a young girl
who is very shortly going to be a young woman.
Teach Kids To Trust Their Feelings
I have always wanted my daughter to know
that when she feels something is right
or feels something is wrong in her heart
she must honor it.
I have done my best to bring her up in a way that
gives her the space and support to live that way.
It is not always easy because there are times when
what she wants directly contradicts what I want.
What Is Your Primary Purpose As A Parent?
It is in these moments that I have to remember my purpose.
My purpose is to teach her these important life skills.
It is to inspire in her a sense of herself that will make her
strong and powerful as she moves through life.
I want her to know that when it comes to the clinch
she is going to honor who she is.
What Is NOT Your Purpose?
It is not my primary role to make her obedient
or to join the crowd
or be apart of society’s way of thinking.
My job is to inspire her to honor
her own way of thinking.
This is what I want for her.
I will also add that focusing on this over the years has not turned my daughter into a selfish person.
She is kind, loving and generous.
She is funny, friendly and a joy to be with.
I hope this is something she carries with her all through her life.