Let them be themselves

by Shae on July 14, 2014

 

Let them be themselves

 

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.

It’s not.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

PlanningQueen July 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Brilliant post Shae. My fourth son wore boardies and rashies for a year when he was 3, even in the cold Melbourne winter. I used to worry about what other parents thought, but then I remembered he was happy, we didn’t fight over what he wore and I had much less ironing!

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katepickle July 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm

LOVE this…
I admit that I struggle with the ‘what kind of boy doesn’t play football??’ comments, and sometimes think I should teach him to kick a footy just because it will help him fit in… but bugger that, he is a boy who doesn’t play football, or cricket, or soccer… so what!?!?

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Jo July 14, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Well said Shae.

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Jen July 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

That would drive me crazy. My boys are very non-stereotypical but I’ve never had any comments like that. I did worry about my oldest’s propensity for wearing sparkly girls shoes when he first went to child care but it turned out that one of the male carers quite often cross-dressed (and quite a few of the other boys regularly turned up in dresses) so no-one turned a hair at his glittery Mary-Janes. There is a lot of diversity at their school too so I’ve never felt any pressure as a parent for them to conform to a particular model of appearance and behaviour. They do often get asked if they are girls but it doesn’t seem to bother them – at least not enough to want to cut their hair!

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Becky from BeckyandJames July 15, 2014 at 10:10 pm

I just love this, Shae. My boy told me yesterday that he wants ‘hair long like Rapunzel’ and today he dressed up in his sister’s ballet tights and his little purple tutu and danced with wild abandon. I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than children simply being who they are.

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Deb @ Bright and Precious July 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Goodness, I love this post so much, Shae. Lots of similar thoughts lately. x

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Karen Lee July 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I totally agree! I read a book years ago that had a chapter called, “I can be me in this family” and I think it’s such an essential part of raising children. It is so idea to place even very subtle pressure on kids to be or act or look a certain way, instead of delighting in who they already are, even the bits we’re not comfortable with. We either love the whole package, or we are loving an image of who we want our kids to be.

If we don’t fully love them as they are, who will?

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Selby July 17, 2014 at 5:47 am

I often think how much braver we all could be in the world to show up how we actually are if we knew we’d be loved & accepted just as we are.

I think its a rare & beautiful gift you give your kids Shae to love,celebrate & accept them just as they are:)

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