I have always prided myself on good fashion, as I’m sure you can tell by my childhood. I love to shop and I love to put what I already have together to make new outfits. It’s something I truly love to do. I thought I had found my calling and then Emma was born. Who knew I’d love putting her stuff together more than mine? A couple of Sundays ago, I received a few compliments on what I wore but more on what Emma wore. She was cute as a button. When I was told, “Emma is so cute! I love her outfits” I replied to it, without a pause, “Yes she is. I hope she always stays this fashionable”. I moved on about my day and then I saw a friend post on facebook about her child being her own person and I got sick at my stomach. Was I pushing Emma to be the child I wanted her to be or the child that she was called to be? Parenting fail.
As I approach this with new eyes, I’m going to go over a few things that I think need to be changed with how we raise our kids. I hope I don’t offend anyone along the way. Remember these are my opinions and I will agree to disagree with anyone. I want to keep the peace.
My child looks like HERSELF. Seriously, my child is not my twin. She’s not JR’s twin, either. I’m completely fine with being told she looks like us but it’s like a battle with some people who their child IS. Good grief, let the child be themselves. I want Emma to be able to look in the mirror and see her, not mommy or daddy or great grandma Sue. In the defense of others, I’m somewhat to blame, too. I catch myself getting a twinge of jealousy when someone tells JR, “she looks so much like you!” and wishing they had instead said me. I talked to JR to see if I was crazy and apparently not. JR is the same way. I felt better. And a little more human. I need to get past myself and be able to see Emma for Emma. She’s not me. She’s not JR. She is Emma.
Children so often times fall into a standard of who they’re suppose to be and it just unnerves me. When Emma grows up she’s going to be this, when Emma grows up she’s going to be that. When Emma grows up she will do whatever she feels called to do. Just because mommy can do this and daddy can do that, it doesn’t mean Emma will, too. For example, JR is an amazing graphic artist. It truly blows me away. Does it mean I will push Emma to be the same? Absolutely not. If she can, we will embrace it and go with it but Emma may be an amazing ballerina. Or a neurosurgeon. She may receive some of our gifts and talents but then again, she may blow us out of the water with her own. The same thing is true of how she does on grades, where she goes to college, and more. My goal is that Emma does her best. What her best is, that is all that I can ask of her. And I will be so proud of her for it.
Dress your child with respect. Let your child be who they want to be. As long as they’re not hurting anyone, let them be themselves. For right now, I am able to dress Emma pretty much how I want to with the exception of a few things. In years to come, she may not like the pink shirt I have for her or the blue leggings. If that’s the case, I need to embrace that and let her make her own decisions, even if it kills me in the process of her doing it. Right now, Emma is going through the phase of taking everything off. She takes her bows off, her shoes off, her pants off, and more. As long as it’s not inappropriate, I don’t wrestle with her to get it back on- she obviously wants it off. It drives me nuts to see a child with a HUGE big decorative center piece on their head that they’re clearly trying to pull off and mommy says, “but you look so cute!” Good grief, take the thing off of the poor child’s head! If they’ll wear it and enjoy it, more power to you, but if they don’t like it, don’t force it to happen.
At the end of the day, I don’t think we’ll have any problems with Emma being Emma. She is already set in her ways and how she wants to be. She reminds us regularly when we try to make things go a certain way and she disagrees. Part of our job as parents is to let her learn who she is. She needs to take the next eighteen years and determine who she wants to be in life. We can guide her and direct her along the way, but in no way do I want to “mold” her to be something. This part is up to her. I have to pray daily that she follows the path we have set before her and God leads her to Him. We can pave the way, but ultimately, all of Emma’s life decisions are up to her. We are simply a model for her to follow. I have to cling to God’s promise and know He will guide and protect her along the way.
“Point your kids in the right direction- when they’re old they won’t be lost.” Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)
What things do you need to work on when it comes to letting your child be themselves? What do you think you’re doing good at in this area?