At Our House, Musings

When being yourself equals trouble

Over the weekend I had a great chat with my daughter, quite possibly, the best so far. We had a two-hour road trip and we talked. And we talked.

The. whole. time.

I can’t speak for Nat, but for me, that was so good for my soul. I feel like we totally connected and were both able to say a lot of things that we really needed to. And that perhaps, in the heat of other moments, we haven’t been hearing from each other properly.

We have had a challenging year (two), Nat has faced more than I think a seven-year old should have to face. But that’s life isn’t it? On this trip everything was right, she opened up and we had a huge heart to heart. The details of which I won’t reveal because she asked me not to tell anyone. But she did raise a fair point that got me thinking…

What should we teach our children to do, when our right thing to do, will potentially get them in trouble?

This is a matter of personality – being true to who we are, not pretending for the sake of someone else.

photo credit: Lauren Beck cc
photo credit: Lauren Beck cc

I always tell my children to be true to who they are. To not change their actions, thoughts or personalities because of what someone else has said about them, or thinks of them.

What is the right thing to do though, when this makes them stand out and possibly draws negative attention? My gut says just be you, be who you are, you are beautiful from the inside out, fearfully and wonderfully made, you are smart, you are unique. And I know that as she blossoms into a young woman, the things that make Nat, Nat, will take her great places. But the mama part of me that doesn’t want to see her hurt, almost wants to say, just tone it down.

Some of the things that make Natty who she is, can get her into trouble. She’s feisty, outspoken, strong-willed, quick to question and confident to tell anyone (including adults … actually, especially adults) exactly what’s going on/how she feels/what she thinks. (This is why I was so surprised that she was bullied).

I’ve always treated Nat a bit grown up I guess, it was just the two of us for so long. In her formative years she also had my parents so very involved in her care – she has always been more comfortable with adults and developed a huge vocabulary at an early age. I know she considers adults, my friends, among her friends. She doesn’t see a big difference between them and her.

Nat has become a lot more sensitive this year because of, well, everything really, but especially school and the bullying. Because of this she is already worrying about the next year at school because she knows that a new teacher won’t know her and her ways. So she’ll probably be seen as the trouble kid. When really, she’s just very honest and extremely inquisitive. She understands the teacher-student relationship and the respect she is required to show in school. But she’s still Nat.

I don’t want to tell her to tone it down, to not ask questions and to not offer opinions. That is who she is and that is how she learns. I also don’t want her labelled (again) as trouble. I don’t really know what to do with this one. But I do need to think of something as it’s obviously bothering Nat and she’s going to need a strategy to feel good about starting the new school year in February.

My gut says stay true. I know this is right. I teach it over and over, I know it’s wrong to stray from that now. But my mama heart still says don’t get hurt.

What would you say to your child?

AbbiesBabble

 

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18 thoughts on “When being yourself equals trouble”

  1. I must agree with you. We must be true with ourselves, our morals and our beliefs. No matter what happens, we should never deny who we are. Doing what is right may not always feel good or be seen as good from those around us, but that is how leaders are born. Leaders stand out from the crowd. They are different and not afraid to be. Your daughter sounds like a leader.

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    1. Yes I honestly do think she has great leadership potential. I hate to see her upset but I know the right path is the one that is true. In the big picture, this is such a short time although (cold comfort for her!). I was such a ‘toe the line’ kind of a child this is foreign ground to me!!!

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  2. We actually had a conversation about how our youngest behaves. Our biggest thing with him was be yourself but be respectful of others. We are encouraging him to get his point across without being rude. Otherwise, I agree we don’t want to break his spirit.

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    1. Yes yes yes! Oh that’s something I’ve always said – I want her to learn respect, and she has to accept that in some situations she just has to submit, but I NEVER want to break her spirit. Nor do I want anyone else to break her spirit which I fear at the moment.

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      1. I’ve found that as long as we let him express himself at home that other people out of the home don’t have as much of an effect on him. He may get upset about what other people do but he can talk it out with us at home and be honest. That seems to be keeping his spirit alive and well.

        It is scary to send your kids out into the world sometimes. Just keep giving her a strong foundation at home and it will all work out.

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  3. Oooh interesting one! I think it’s so important to always be true to yourself – in the long term, pretending to be someone you’re not will only cause stress and anxiety. xx

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  4. Oh wow, Abbie. That definitely is a thought provoking questions. The mama bear in us always wants to protect our little ones, but in the end, it seems we cannot, unfortunately, protect them from everything. I hope you and her both find a solution that you feel is right. ☺

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    1. Thanks Marla. I know the right thing, I think I knew it all along. It will mean riding out a few storms along the way I’m sure, but in the big picture, it will be for the best.

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  5. Oh that’s a tough one. I feel so much for you both. I would encourage her to continue speaking her truth, and she knows she has a great advocate in you. I have my eight year old involved in out of school activities that interest her, and that helps when things are tough at school. She has other friends that love the same things she does and are removed from the school environment. Much love to you both. xxx

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    1. Thank you. Yes I have taken the same approach – she goes to Brownies which is all about empowering girls and fostering teamwork and leadership. That’s totally removed from school. She also does sport away from school. She loves these things. It’s a good approach 🙂

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  6. I think that as long as she is true to herself and respectful when voicing her opinion or question she should be fine!
    Might be a good idea to speak with her current teacher and see what she/he advises.
    I was extremely talkative and confident in class, but because I got all my work done I didn’t get in to trouble. I also grew up around adults. My report each year always had the same line ‘easily distracted and talks too much!’ lol!
    Nice to read that you are enjoying your girly time and connecting even more. Sorry to read that your daughter has been bullied… that situation is so hard to deal with as a parent (I would sooo want to go in and sort out the bully!).

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    1. Yes we have had a lot of talks about respect and kindness. And how we don’t have to LIKE everyone, but we do have to treat everyone kindly, as we would like to be treated. That old Golden Rule. In terms of teachers, she understands and applies good respect to those relationships as far as I have been told (thank goodness!).

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  7. The tricky part comes in the way our children express themselves and how that can sometimes come across as disrespectful, but isn’t really. Sometimes adults take things from kids in the wrong way. I think adults can best serve these strong-willed, outspoken, have-all-kinds-of-ideas children by assuming good intent. My husband and I try to do that with all of our children, and then, if something does seem disrespectful or rude, we’ll ask our boys (particular the oldest, who is 8), how they intended to come across. This opens a great door for a conversation about how sometimes the things we say can be taken a completely different way by someone else. We’re not always responsible for the way people take our words, but we do have the responsibility to make sure our words are as kind and respectful as they can be—and much of that can be seen through facial expression and body language. We talk with our boys a lot about body language.

    I would tell my boys to be who they are any day. I don’t want them to be who the world says they should be, because who they are is already AMAZING. It does mean some parent-teacher conferences along the way, and it does mean fighting a battle we may not win in schools, but if we are their support and their safe place, the war will be won in the end.

    Thanks for your post, Abbie.

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    1. Yes I agree – the high emotion can be misleading as well. There have been a lot of talks about ‘not what you say but how you say it’. It’s the tone we need to manage carefully with our particularly emotional girl. And she is learning – it is so wonderful to see her start to kick off, then pause, and restart – oh how I praise! I love what you say here:”If we are their support and their safe place, the war will be won in the end”. Wise words 🙂

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  8. Something I’ve learned, too, is that the tone we take with our children is the tone they’ll take with others. That’s a challenge. Often, because of the overwhelming needs in my house, I use a hurried, annoyed, you’re-bothering-me tone. I’m relentlessly trying to break this…especially since I want my boys to communicate effectively with other people and have a good example to follow.

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