One of things people notice about my sons is that they are very OK with who they are. They don’t have to be wearing the latest brands, they prefer to take a lunch which includes “weird” veggie foods their friends have never heard of, they don’t compare themselves, they are more interested in how they measure up against what they set out to do…and most importantly, they almost seem immune to peer pressure.
First of all, I have to give God all the credit because it’s an answered prayer for wisdom, understanding and knowledge to be the best mom I could be. You see, that was not my experience growing up. I was always trying to assimilate. Here are two things I remember doing when they were younger.
The other day, I spent the day with my sister-in-law and my niece, who is just about three years old. Something came to mind as we were driving. I remembered that in an attempt to engage my sons as we drove, I would change the station and we would decide if we liked it or not. I would then change it again and ask each one if they liked it. I wanted them to learn it was OK to like a station I didn’t like and for me to like a station they didn’t like. As we drove with my niece, it was fun to asking her if she liked this song or that one. It was cute to watch her sit there and try to decide if she liked it. I also found it amazing how she KNEW what she liked and what she didn’t like.
Earlier this week on a flight home from New Orleans, I met this very nice father of two girls, ages 1 and 6. He was telling me that his 6 year old seemed really preoccupied with pleasing. He said that every time she went to do something she wanted to make sure she was pleasing him or her mother. I told him about the time I asked Matthew if he liked the Scion:
We got stuck in traffic behind this Scion. Matthew was 12. It was the first time I had seen this car and we were getting the chance to get a good look. “So Matthew…do you like that car?” I asked. “I don’t know…”, he replied. I got the sense he didn’t want to say because he couldn’t tell if I liked it, so I said, “Oh come on! You gotta know. Do you like it?” “I don’t know….it’s kind of weird.”, he said. “OK, but yes or no.”, I insisted. “Well, yeah….I kind of like it….” he said. “Really!!?? I don’t! I would never buy that car!”, I exclaimed as emphatically as I could. “But OK, why do you like it?” I asked. “Well, I think the boxy design allows you to fit lots of things in there, and all the windows mean you can see everything when you’re inside.”, he said. “Hmmm….those are really good points, but I still don’t like it, but you know what! That’s OK! We don’t have to like the same things….we’re different!”
Other things I remember doing is encouraging them to choose colors and if they wanted to color the sky gray instead of blue, I let them. I allowed them to be creative when they played. If they wanted to wear their rain boots when it wasn’t raining, I let them. If they wanted to wear something that didn’t match exactly, I let them. This wasn’t easy for me, because like I said, I was always trying to assimilate. I always stressed how different we were and how we liked different things. I even told them they were weird, but in a good way!
I think it also teaches them to trust themselves….to trust their likes and dislikes…which is always part of having a full LoveCup. Try it…your children will feel special and you will have created a cushion against peer pressure. They will not feel the need to conform. They will be OK with being different.
Note: By the way, this same man told me he had gone to Washington DC to present his findings on whether Compassion International had a long term positive impact on the lives of the children. He said it was a resounding yes, that children who had been supported had more years of schooling, more of them had white collar jobs, they waited longer before getting married, etc. So, know your money does have an impact with Compassion International. http://www.compassion.com/