“If I act like myself, I’m afraid people won’t like me!” my daughter cried.
They were the words that would break any mother’s heart.
Earlier that day, I had been observing my 9 year old daughter at her party. Surrounded by her friends, she appeared almost to be playing a character. She oozed a cool girl persona, a too cool for school girl, someone I didn’t recognise.
That evening as we sat on my bed, I shared my observations with her.
“Did you feel like you were being yourself today?” I asked gently.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“It looked to me like you were trying to be someone else, almost like someone you watch on your shows, someone trying to be cool. You just didn’t seem to be acting like yourself.”
We sat in silence for several minutes as my words whirled around her head.
“Mum,” she began, “I feel like if I act like myself no one will like me.”
The tears flowed.
My beautiful, young daughter was about to experience some deep, personal growth.
“It’s pretty normal to feel like that,” I comforted as I wiped the tears rolling down her cheek.
“If you watch people, you’ll often see that people act a certain way to try and fit in. When we do that though, we sometimes get to a point where we aren’t sure who we really are anymore because we get so used to acting like someone we’re not. Feeling accepted feels so important, but the people who don’t accept you just the way you are, aren’t your people.”
“Do you see me with my friends? I’m silly and funny, aren’t I? Do you ever see me not being myself? I love being me and you need to love being you too, because you’re not like the cool girl you watch on tv, because she isn’t real and you are!”
We continued to talk that evening about the things that make us unique, the things that make us special, the parts of us we need to nurture. We also talked about how hard growing up is, but how you always have to stay true to yourself and be yourself regardless of who is around you.
We can’t make the world a perfect place for our kids. There are going to be haters and toxic friendships along the way, but if we can help them build their armour, their shield of self-worth and self-acceptance that can rise up and protect them when they need it, then I think we’ll have done a pretty good job of raising our kids!
Help them become self-aware, teach them to be reflective, model it, live it, breathe it. Share yourself with them, remind them you were their age once too. Be who you needed when you were younger and just be there.
‘Your children will become who you are, so be who you want them to be.’
Have you read my blog ‘Words of Wisdom for my Children’?
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