I invalidated my kiddo today. I didn’t mean to. And I tried to remedy and repair, as I managed to catch myself, three times (in one day, yes.. I know). Nonetheless, I did what I beg others not to do.
The incidents were simple, each time my daughter voiced her opinion that something annoyed her (didn’t smell good, didn’t look good, she didn’t like it), and each time I countered that it was fine (did smell good, did look good, no reason to not like it). Stupid. Stupid.
The rub is the reason I responded as I did, because normally, I would simply acknowledge her opinion, acknowledge her for voicing it, ask questions perhaps, and let her have her thoughts and feelings (just like I want to be allowed my thoughts and feelings, and the validation of them and me). But today, for whatever reason, each time she expressed a negative opinion (stated above), it happened to be in public, and in the presence of adults within hearing (and being offended) distance.
Today I decided, in a rather knee-jerk fashion, to allow my need for social acceptance from other adults to supersede my respect and value of my daughter. To me, this is unacceptable.
Each time I countered, I caught myself and was able to restate with something along the lines of, “You don’t think this smells good? Well, I actually think it smells good, but you don’t. Ok.” Mind you, this only after my immediate response of, “It does smell good”.
I might as well have told her, “Don’t say it doesn’t smell good, and it’s not ok for you think that. Stop saying things that others will look at me funny out of assumed insult, where I might end up being embarrassed.”
Pathetic. I know.
What’s worse is… I know. I know better. I know how important it is to validate her, even if I disagree. I know how crucial it is to care more about her than what others might think (especially the general public). SERIOUSLY. I am not typically even remotely affected by what others think, why it got to me today, I don’t know. And it did get to me – at the expense of my little one – the one I’m to protect and uphold.
Lesson: Take my own advice and pay more attention.
Thankfully, my daughter allowed me to restate and try to repair each time (but really, I “caught” my error after the first time, why oh why did I repeat it twice more!!). Yet, I know it is there now, and I can’t take it back… I can only improve.
How many times a day do we, as adults, invalidate our little ones without even realizing it? I would encourage you today to intentionally become aware and if you catch yourself (or hear others) simply countering your little ones, think before you open your mouth next time. Remember, they are their own person. We have the responsibility to acknowledge their feelings and opinions as valid and worthy of existing – even if we don’t agree with them.
I wonder how many parents of teens would see a complete 180 in their relationships if they decided to zero in on this aspect of interaction with their teens, and make changes in their behaviors toward their teens.