When We Wish Our Daughters Were Different

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Hi, my name is Barb Steinberg. I am a
parent coach and a teen life coach for girls and a speaker on raising teen
girls. I wanted to talk with you about a topic that recently came up in a support
group that I am running for parents of tween and teen girls and it was about
the idea of a mom sharing that she was she wished that her daughter had
stronger opinions and spoke her mind more and it got me thinking about how
often as parents we want our teens to be a little different than they are or in
some cases a lot different than they are. And we have our own feelings and beliefs
about why we want those differences to take place, why they want them to be
different. So we’re gonna get to that but I want to just step back in time for a
minute I want you to remember back when you were a tween or a teen and think
about how your parents treated you and the message that they sent the messages
that they sent to you either covertly or overtly about who they wanted you to be.
What they wanted you to be like or act like. So think about that for a minute.
Did you get any sense or any direct messages that they wanted you to be even
a little different than you were. I’m guessing that many of you did get that. I
know that I did. In my house growing up, I felt like, and you know this was my
reality, whether it was my parents reality or not, my reality was that I
felt like my parents when I was a teenager really wanted me to be quieter.
They wanted me to comment less and be less vocal, ask less questions, push back
less with my thoughts opinions and questions. They wanted me to be less
reactive, less emotional, a little bit more logical and they wanted me to be
thinner. So my take on all of that, is that I fell
like, and I didn’t have words for this of course, it was just a feeling, I felt like
they wanted me to be smaller. In so many ways. They wanted me to be physically
smaller and they wanted my big personality to be smaller. Now let me be
clear: My parents loved me and you know they I don’t think that they would have
ever said, no we don’t want her to be different, we just want you to be you
know, a little quieter. So yes, they loved me and I think also, they wanted to be a
little bit more comfortable, right? So if I were pushing less and I were
commenting less and doing all of that, then they probably would have felt a
little bit more comfortable. And don’t we all want to feel comfortable? Yeah! And I
think that they also wanted me to be have a happy, comfortable life and from
their point of view, being thinner, you would have you would you know be there’d
be less chance of you receiving comments or negativity and you would have a
happier life because of that. So they had really good intentions, for the most part,
right? I just didn’t interpret it that way. And so often our teenagers don’t.
Even our, you know most benign comments, sometimes can be received as being
criticism and they feel that they are being criticized and judged and so we
know that their coming, when they’re coming from that place we want to be
really really careful with our words. So when you were a teenager and if you did
feel like your parents wanted you to be a little different than you were, how did
that make you feel? I’m guessing that it didn’t make you feel great and in some
cases it made you feel bad. It made you feel like you weren’t necessarily loved
for exactly who you were in that moment and maybe you didn’t feel accepted or
celebrated and that doesn’t feel very good and again your parents might have
had the best intentions as well. We are a different generation of parents. Our
children will be a different generation of parents. I
like to think that we’re getting more, we’re evolving more and more with each
generation. We’re becoming better equipped parents over time and of course
we are going to make mistakes as we’re learning as well. But when we think about
how we felt, when we were teenagers, our parents wanting us to be different we
can step into our children’s shoes a little bit and we can look at our own
selves as parents and ask ourselves: Do I want my daughter to be different than
she is? I hear from parents, you know when I meet with them and parent coaching, and
they say, you know I want, for example, I want her to be stronger. I want her to be
more bold. I want her to stand up for herself. You know, I don’t want her to be
a Wallflower and get walked all over and be a doormat. And, you know they have
really good reasons for wanting that. It is coming from a place of love and
protection. So you know you might be thinking the ways that parents might
want girls to be different, you know I want her to be athletic. I want her to be
a part of a team and have that experience. I want her to be smarter and
make straight A’s so that she can get a go into a good college and get a good
job. You know, I want her to be braver and bolder. I want her to be quiet and less
aggressive so that she can have better friendships and won’t be rejected as
often by friends so there’s just a lot of different wants that we can have when
it comes to wanting our kids to be different. You know that said, in
adolescence, they’re working really hard on identity and they’re working hard on
discovering who they are now and who they want to become. So there’s gonna be
some messiness involved. There’s gonna be some ups and downs as they’re trying to
figure that out. So for the girl that it might be a little bit too aggressive
with her friends, she is going to learn that. You know, one way or another,
hopefully with less pain involved, life tends to give us feedback and so we as
parents I think, can be the shelter. Knowing that life, her friends, her peers,
will give her feedback, we want to be there rather than to also drive home
that point of her may being too aggressive with her friends we
want to be the shelter as I said. So we want to create the safe space so when
that feedback comes, we can be the ones to help her to get back up and to be
resilient and to learn from it and become an even better version of herself.
More of who it is that she wants to become and is meant to be. So when we
want our girls to be something different than they are, often it comes from fear.
And so many of our choices and responses as parents come it comes from fear
whether we are connected and to that or not. So you know, think of the mom and
dad that want their daughter to be bolder and braver and stand up for
herself and speak more, have opinions, state her desires. You can see that’s
coming from a place of: I’m afraid that if she doesn’t, she’s gonna get walked
all over, she’s not going to get to know herself, she’s gonna make decisions that
aren’t even her own and they could be poor decisions or dangerous decisions.
And it’s scary. And it also, I think, can trigger in us, using this example, when we
watch that you know maybe we felt like we were not strong enough when we were
young and we value that in ourselves now so to see it her and our own daughters
it’s a bit of a mirror as to who we used to be and that we didn’t like that about
ourselves so that when we see it in our daughter we don’t like it in her and we
want to change it so that we can feel more comfortable and we can feel like
we’re protecting her. Which also makes us feel more comfortable. So I’m wondering,
having this insight and this awareness, is there a way for us as parents to look
at those parts of our girls that we wished were different or we want to
change, once we identify where’s that want coming from in us, is that about a
fear, is that about us feeling more comfortable and safe, we should ask
ourselves, well those parts of her that I wish were different, can I admire that
part? Can I respect it? Can I celebrate it? So going back to my
parents, me having this big personality and a lot of thoughts and opinions and
questions and all of that, I certainly can see from their point of view,
that that wasn’t always easy. And I can also see now as a parent, if that could
have been celebrated, like yeah, it is sometimes a total bitch to parent a kid
who is constantly pushing back and mouthy and has opinions and you know
all of that and if you step back and remove yourself from the your emotion of
it to be able to say, you know what, that’s a girl that I hope will go out
into the world as an adult and will have strengths. Will be able to share her
point of view. Will be able to sit in a boardroom and disagree with a co-worker
or a boss. So being able to admire or celebrate that part of her. So for
example, if you have a shy and a quiet girl, imagine if we had a world of only
extroverts, and everyone being loud, and not that all extroverts are loud, but
everyone, you know, expressing in that way. It could be a really noisy world that’s
bombarding us. But there are girls that are a little bit more shy or a little
bit more quiet, so when they do speak up, we’re gonna pay attention. It’s a value
and they’re offering and giving to the world in a different way. They’re not
expressing it with loud vocals. So can we respect and admire that? Can we
appreciate that in her that she’s careful with her words and she shares
only when she feels that it’s necessary? So just to be able to kind of re-frame it
and look for the good in the characteristics that sometimes challenge
you or bring up feelings in you. It can take some time I think to get there, and
I would also say you know maybe at the end of every day you even write
one thing that you experienced with your daughter today that you’re able to
re-frame and appreciate it and celebrate it so that you can begin to possibly
view her through a different lens. And I’ll say this, if that happens, you
viewing her through a different lens, she will feel you differently. She will feel
different energy coming from you. To feel that someone’s appreciating you,
celebrating you, admiring you, for you to even speak that out loud to her, to be
able to say, man oh man, I wish that you would stop pushing me sometimes and
there’s a part of me that’s really proud of you that you do. I love that you are
your own girl. I love that you’re coming into your own. I love that you have your
own opinions and your thinking for yourself. You know, or I love your quiet
confidence. For her to feel that coming from you, for her to hear that… imagine
what that would feel like. To grow up feeling like the essence of who you are
is celebrated and wanted. Listen, I think we could change the planet if that’s
what we were doing and I think we’re on where are we’re on our way to doing so.
So hopefully this is giving you some food for thought. Please share this video
with anybody that you think it might be a benefit too and I hope that you will
also visit my website: BarbSteinberg.com and check out the e- courses, the
webinars that I’ve created for you to have an amazing relationship with your
girls and to help to parent her and grow her into the woman that she is meant to
be. Have a fabulous day. Thanks for listening!

 

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