I have heard the comment, “She looks just like you,” since my daughter was young. And just until recently, I wished, “She acts just like you,” was the next comment and the reality of my daughter’s behavior.
It was not.
We all make mistakes. She is young and still immature. But, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me after reading an email detailing her recent behavior.
The email was from a teacher describing disappointment in my child’s attitude within the classroom. I was overcome with emotions of raging anger and embarrassment.
In my adolescent days and continuing into my young adult years, I never displayed that type of behavior. I assumed because I didn’t act that way that my child wouldn’t either. And also because I raised my kids to be nice, by discussing how we respect others, and by role modeling that behavior. But in this case, it appeared assuming and modeling were not good enough.
Her Own Personality
I think many of us parents believe that since we display certain personality traits that our children will demonstrate those same traits as well. That’s certainly what I expected, although I now know that might not be the case.
We see our children developing their own personality traits, positive or negative, which define them. We may wish our kids weren’t shy, that they’d be more outgoing. But then feel thankful that they are more attentive and reserved than we are.
But, ultimately I don’t think we would want our children to be just like us. If every child exhibited the same personality and character traits as their parents, there would be no room for growth or change. Parents that were more shy would only then have shy children instead of being social and outgoing. Assertive parents would only have assertive kids.
I now realize that I need to accept the personality and character traits that are different than mine. To recognize that ultimately my kids need to make their own decisions and evolve into their own person.
The Silver Lining
A month later, I received another email. Honestly, I didn’t even want to open it up to read the content. I assumed it would be more bad news regarding my daughter’s attitude.
But, it wasn’t.
I skimmed over the email waiting to read the negatives that I was sure would come after the positives. But, there weren’t any. I read it again and the words “awesome partner/group leader” were popping out in bold, large font.
Fast-forward to a few weeks later, yet another email from a teacher found its way into my inbox. Once again, I hesitated for a second, not wanting to be disappointed. But, once again, I wasn’t. The character traits used to describe my daughter were, “fire, passion, and resilience.”
When I was her age, I didn’t have those qualities. I was shy and was terrified to call someone on the phone that I didn’t know. The few times I had to go door-to-door to ask neighbors if they wanted to buy from fundraisers were horrible. I felt so much anxiety pour through my body that it made me feel ill.
Focus On the Positive
I am now proud of the characteristics my daughter has at her age that I didn’t. Of course we all have negative ones as well, but if the positive are more present than the negative, I am taking that as a win.
And my daughter is still young, she has time to change and hopefully evolve into a person she can be proud of. And for the time being, I will focus on the positives — her fire, passion, and resiliency.
For more on helping children to be their best selves, read this post on Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids.