I’ve talked before about there being lots of ways to be a kid and it’s still true. I also know that adults tend to give other adults more of a break when it comes to likes and dislikes. Often the same adults that would publicly shame a child for not getting on an amusement park ride are the ones who will go and see the romantic comedy rather than the horror flick with a friend-without offering comment. Adults seem to think it’s OK to tell my daughter that having short hair is “wrong” or that she “looks like a boy”, even when the same comment to another adult is considered beyond rude.
And if those who feel the need to make such comments don’t do it to the kids-they do it to the parents. Because having a shy/different/easily spooked etc kid is some sort of failing on the parent’s behalf.
In fact, I think that holding the space for a child’s individuality can be a lot of damn work and attract a lot of criticism.
And it’s damn awesome parenting.
Not all kids like movies or noisy places or the dark or sleepovers or rides or being away from their parents. It’s OK. The world isn’t only made up of the super brave and independent. And some kids like wearing dress ups at all times or having short/long hair or dancing at the shops. It’s OK. The world needs creative types too. Not every kid needs to be top of the class or brilliant at sports or have an adventurous palate.
I’d much rather my kids feel comfortable in their own skin, accepted for who they are and happy than to simply fit the most socially accepted framework. Of course if they did fit it, that would be OK too. I’m not against extroverted, brave, clever kids here!
My kids are awesome, amazing individuals. Deserving of the right to like and dislike what they please. I’ve always known that.
But it can be hard to be seen as the enabler of a “scaredy-cat” or as a parent who is too weak to make their child dress appropriately and so on. Sometimes other parents will absolutely think you’re doing it wrong. Sometimes I can really want total strangers to think I’m a “good” parent, let alone friends and family who do it differently. In the past I have apologized or minimized my child’s experience to appease the critics.
It’s only lately I have decided a big fuck no to that noise.
It’s OK for me to unapologetically support them in being themselves. Without the dogma of what I “should” be doing.