My alt title for this post was, How Always Putting My Feelings Second Hurt My Confidence, but that felt like too much of a downer.
Parenting is hard. Teach them and also listen to them. Give them independence but be there. Instill values, beliefs and maybe a tiny bit of critical thinking. We have had interesting conversations with our kids about their feelings and emotions. I know some adults that don’t know how to handle their feelings, so of course it’s a lot for kids. Especially as they are growing up and living life so they can put real experiences to those emotions beyond sad, mad and happy. Feelings are complicated. For example, empathy, sympathy, and compassion. Everyone has different degrees of these qualities. Unless you’re a psychopath in which case you have basically none of those qualities.
My parents instilled the importance of being understanding, since I was a kid. It was always, “imagine how the other person is feeling”, or “think about it from their side”, or “they didn’t mean it”, or maybe my favorite, “be the bigger person”. So, I did. Anytime someone teased or harassed me I’d just smile and walk away or do absolutely nothing. “Ignore them,” they said. I am definitely empathetic and sympathetic now and I’m sure a lot of that comes from those early years. I can also tell you that a lot of kids thought I was stuck up because I was so quiet. I can tell you I was a hot mess. I had a lot of feelings and didn’t know how to articulate them much less understand them. That Katy Perry lyric, “I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything,” is so apt.
Those qualities of being understanding and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes are important. We are all going through things that no one else might be aware of and we, especially as adults, should understand that. There’s no reason to be judgmental or be a jerk when you don’t know the whole story. But here’s the thing.
I followed those rules to the extent that I think I lost myself. It felt like everyone else’s feelings were always right and mine didn’t matter. I didn’t stand up for myself, so I was run over again and again. Guess how my confidence developed? You’re right.
“I was hurting but I was supposed to ignore that and just focus on the fact that the other person was probably hurting more. ”
I’m constantly worried that I’m doing the right thing with our kids. My husband and I have tried to pick the parts of the parenting we liked from our parents and made up the rest. That’s kind of what we do right? A bit of this, a bit of that, definitely never this thing, and whirl it all in a blender and marinade the kids in it. Ok, that analogy doesn’t really work but you get the idea. I see our kids and you know what? They’re great. They are kind and have each other’s backs. They stick up for themselves and each other. They are hilarious and smart, interesting and a mystery all at the same time. I think we’re doing a pretty great job but it’s still really hard. Let’s give each other a little space and grace. The kids will be alright.