No wonder my children are confused! When I think about all the messages I've sent them over the years.
Ages 0 - 3: Don't touch, try this, stay with Mommy, go to the nice nursery worker, sit still, no-no, go to sleep, let's play, shhh.
Ages 3 - 5 (added to above): Play nice, share the toys, no hitting, no biting, take turns, be fair.
Ages 5 - 8 (added to above): Think about others, share, play nice, use kind words, put others first, take turns, pay attention, listen to the teacher.
Ages 8 and up (added to above): Stand up for yourself, don't be a tattle tale, tell me if someone's doing something wrong, have a plan, don't let anyone stop you, you can do better than that.
My ten year old daughter (my youngest child) is playing basketball this year. We parents have been both amused and frustrated by our girls' lack of defensive and offensive skills. They won't put their hands up and don't fight for the rebound. One of the dads and I were talking at practice this week. We compared notes at our daughters' lack of aggressiveness on the court. It's as if they are afraid of being rude. We laughed at how we're now asking them to put aside what we've taught them and go for it on the court.
So, how do we learn for ourselves (and thereby teach our children) when to be aggressive and when to put others first? I think it's different for women than for men. While we want our boys to have good manners and be caring, we also like them to be take charge, get it done, ambitious men. But for women - those same attributes can be viewed as negative. A woman who has a kick butt, take charge, get it done personality is often described with unflattering words (my daughter would say those words are "inappropriate") while a man would not be described as such.
But, difficult or not, it is the task at hand. I have a daughter to teach. How do I know the difference between being pushy and a go-getter? Frankly, I'm not sure. I do know that I made a decision somewhere in my 20's to "be nice" because my mother described me as a "bossy" child (funny, I remember being fairly passive - oh well). Somehow I interpreted "bossy" as being bad, and I didn't want that. I wonder what opportunities I missed because I didn't want that label? None of that matters now, and I don't live in regret (except for not going to college, but that's another blog). What matters now is, well, NOW. Who I decide to be today will teach my daughter about who she is tomorrow.
And more importantly - how am I going to get my daughter to go for it on the basketball court on Saturday!
Labels: aggressive, attributes, basketball, bossy, daughter, decisions, patience, Sheila Siler