Recently, I was at a gathering of friends with my six year old daughter. It was a casual thing. The kids were all hanging out and playing and the adults were gabbing. If I hadn't been paying close attention to my daughter, from a distance, and if I wasn't aware of how my own interaction affected her, I not only could have made a huge mistake but I would have missed an opportunity to see who my daughter is.
My daughter was playing with her friends for quite a while, laughing and smiling, having a great time. Towards the end of our play date I looked up from the conversation I was having and noticed she was looking a little serious. Her friends were still talking but she looked like she was uncomfortable and trying to work something out in her head. I excused myself from the conversation I was having, got up and walked by the girls to go to the restroom to see if I could get a sense of what was going on.
When I walked by I heard the other girls talking about a particular toy that they all have and how many they had. This type of conversation was clearly making my daughter uncomfortable. On my way back from the restroom, I noticed the conversation hadn't changed. My daughter has just as many of this toy as the other girls so I know her discomfort wasn't that she felt left out. To her, it had to do with the importance these girls were placing upon the toys. I decided to observe from a distance and see how this played out.
What did my daughter do? After attempting to change the conversation a few times, with no success, she grabbed her things and physically removed herself! I was surprised! Not because what she did was wrong but I immediately and involuntarily remembered how I would have handled something like that at her age. I would have sat there, hiding my discomfort and trying to go along with a conversation that made me uncomfortable. Plus I didn't have the amount of self esteem she does and I would have felt like there was something wrong with ME for not taking about these toys in such important detail. When I saw her decide to make herself feel better by making a quiet, but bold, step in getting away from the conversation, I was proud of her!
What would you have done at this point? For a fleeting moment, it crossed my mind to tell her to go back and sit with her friends. Was what she did actually rude? I decided it wasn't. And did I even care if it appeared that way? Absolutely not. What mattered to me most was how my daughter was feeling. So what did I do? I chose to love her for who she is instead! A strong, decisive, self-confident, much-wiser-than-I-was-at-her-age, little girl!
If I had told her to go back and sit with her friends, it would have given her the message that she needed to ignore how she felt for the sake of not making others uncomfortable. She was the one who was not comfortable with the conversation so why should she have to suck it up and deal with it to spare anyone else's discomfort? There are way too many adults that already subscribe to that sort of thinking, who get offended if you have any sort of feelings that aren't what they consider to be the correct ones. I was not going to initiate her into that! I went over to check on her and ask if she needed anything. She asked if it was time to leave yet. I packed up and we left.
Do you know what else I didn't do? Make a big deal about it! I haven't asked her to talk about it. I haven't asked her what was going on. To do so would be game playing. I was there. I observed what happened. It felt most natural to her to be true to herself. If I prodded her to talk about it when she wasn't bringing it up, it would make it a bigger issue than it was and make her think twice about her actions next time. I don't want her to re-think how she behaves at any time in the future so I left it alone! As she gets older "the issues" are only going to get more complicated and more adult. I don't want her to prioritize the importance of her feelings. If she doesn't feel right about ANYTHING, I never want her to rationalize, examine and have to explain herself. I want her to get up and walk away!
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, my passion lies in empowering parents to make the best decisions they can for their children and their families as a whole. As a well-trained coach, I can be your facilitator and accountability partner for long-lasting, meaningful change that has a permanent, positive impact for your family. By focusing on the values that you hold most important in your life, I can help you create and maintain the type of parenting relationship you want to have with your children, now and into their adulthood.
I am a homeschooling mom of four children in Massachusetts. I am also the author of a book called The Herbal Beverage Book, which can be found on amazon or directly on my website. When not coaching, writing or spending time with the family, I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki films, new and classic Dr. Who episodes, anything related to American history and a great glass of mead.
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This blog is a collection of thoughts, articles and perspectives I have at any one time. While I am pretty consistent in my beliefs, life changes and evolves along with experiences. You may feel a connection with me through my writing yet I never want any of my readers to misunderstand that the connection you feel is with a perspective I have shared and not me as a person. I am continually humbled that I am able to connect with my readers, and I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come, but it doesn't make us connected in any way beyond this. If you connect with what I write and know me as an acquaintance, this in no way reflects that I have any knowledge of you, your situation in life or that I am writing with you in mind. It is merely that I have shared a human experience that most likely very many others have had has well. This also goes for anything I post on my Twitter account, Facebook Page and Facebook personal page. I wanted to make this disclaimer as clear as possible so you know that any misunderstanding you choose to have is not my responsibility.