A Private Exchange in Public
As parents, how do we know we are raising a confident child? How do we help them grow without unknowingly pushing our own issues or insecurities onto them? My children are nearing 3 and 5, and it already feels like a constant struggle.
I was taking some time to myself recently and enjoying some coffee in quiet at Starbucks. While sitting there, I watched the strangest yet incredibly captivating interaction between a couple in line. For whatever reason, salsa music was playing in the cafe and while I noticed it, I didn’t give it much thought. That is until I saw the woman waiting in line. She began dancing in place very subtly, yet still very noticeably (if that makes sense! LOL). She was dancing in place just staring at the man she was with, and he was looking straight into her eyes with a big smile. I couldn’t help but wonder – are they are new couple, still in that honeymoon phase where everything the other one does is amazing? Maybe. I did catch a glimpse at their hands…because I’m nosey, and they were in fact married. I’m going to assume it was to each other. Ha!
She danced for this entire song and playfully put his hand on her waist so he could “dance” with her. She wanted him to feel her movements. I could tell watching she knew he wasn’t going to dance with her but she wanted him to feel her rhythm. My question is this – how in the hell does someone have the confidence to do that?! Not only in public…but in Starbucks and not anywhere that dancing takes place on a regular basis. Maybe she’s a dance teacher or enthusiast? Maybe she just likes to dance? There could be a million possible answers to that question and it’s a question I’ll never know the answer to. I know…deep thoughts by Crystal. Ha! It left me wondering if there’s some magic answer for raising a confident child.
Realist vs Dreamer
It did leave me wondering – how do you develop it and even more importantly, how do you keep it as you grow? I don’t remember a time where I was that carefree and felt so confident in myself that I didn’t care who was watching. I’m sure I did because I see photos from when I was a child, but let’s be honest, most of my photos are of me with a sassy expression. I don’t remember being that day dreamy child with not a care in the world. I’m sure part of that has to do with my childhood and the fact that I was a big sister to two siblings that relied on me.
I’m certain my role as big sister needing to look after my younger siblings forced me to grow up faster, but it still wasn’t something I was ever able to let go of even once things were different. Those early days molded me and I’m such a practical person because of it. Very full of realism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an eternal optimist, but I’m a realist and I have a lot of doubt in those around me. Being a dreamer isn’t practical since you have to be a doer in order to get anything done.
I’m not that person who trusts easily even though I make friends incredibly easily. Is that why I can’t comprehend what I witnessed in Starbucks? Is that why I can’t relate to someone so freely expressing themselves for everyone around them to see? Quite honestly, this blog is so damn hard for me because I’m finding myself sharing things I don’t typically share. Is it a confidence from being behind the computer and knowing I won’t meet most who will ever read this…assuming (and hoping!!) people do in fact read it?
Confidence…A Learned Behavior?
I’ve thought a lot about confidence and if it’s a learned behavior, and I’m just not sure. I mean, in a way it is, but I actually think LACK of confidence is the learned behavior. At what point in our lives do we decide it’s time to start doubting ourselves and caring what others think? I have confidence in many ways but the self-doubt when I branch out or try something new is so real, and most of it boils down to me caring what others are going to think.
Like deciding to join LuLaRoe for example. Oh my. I seriously cried and started to panic when I thought about hitting ‘post’ on my Facebook wall. I was 31 to the day, and I was panicking about what others would think. My fears honestly had nothing to do with my thought of failing, it had everything to do with what others would think. Because I’m a doer. Are you freaking kidding me? I spent a small fortune to start a business, something I’ve never done before, yet wasn’t scared at all about that. Ummm….that makes zero sense.
I know I’m a strong woman. I am certain I am capable of anything I decide I’m going to do once I decide to do it, but you won’t ever see me dancing in public or anything I deem vulnerable because I’m going to worry about what others are thinking. What are they going to say? How will that make me look? OMG, they’re going to think I’m stupid. Yeah…I’m that girl. I hide my insecurities well most days. Probably because my spirit animal is a duck. Ha!
At What Age Does it Start?
The evolution of confidence never really crossed my mind until I had my son. Recently though, I find myself thinking about it even more now that I have a daughter. Not that I think my son will naturally be more confident than my daughter, but because I don’t know what it’s like to grow up as a boy! The biggest reason is I see how strong-willed my little girl is, how she’s happy to wear whatever the hell she wants, and doesn’t care what I think. I love it…most days. But at what age does that blatant disregard for what others think fade away?
I think it’s a gradual change…one that happens with the help of society, but also with your upbringing. Society has instilled a certain level of behavior that’s expected from either sex, and it’s one I’m seeing each of my children begin to already learn at the ripe old ages of nearly 3 and 5. “That’s a girl color.” “Girls don’t do that.” “That’s only for boys.” Mind you, I’ve never said any of those things to my children and neither has my husband. My son went through a very short phase of wanting to wear a headband around the house because I did, so he did. It lasted all of a week but he had to try it out, so he did.
More and more, I’m hearing my sweet little guy say “I hope my friend likes my new shirt” and we always tell him it doesn’t matter what anyone else likes. All that matters is if he likes it! School is not an issue yet, he is involved in gymnastics which there’s no time to talk during, and all of our play dates are with friends and we don’t talk about that stuff. Where are those thoughts coming from? I’ll tell you where – we all want acceptance.
Defining Our Children
Scarlett marches to the beat of her own drum. She doesn’t care at all about anything except that she’s happy. Or not happy…the struggle is real with Scarlett. LOL! The wrath of Scarlett is pretty fierce. Ha! When will she start to doubt herself the way I do? How do I teach her to remain confident in ALL aspects of her life when I’m not outwardly expressing the same?
My son is about to be 5 and right now he wants to be like me and such a lovey boy. We dealt with hurt feelings a few months back when matching leggings came for my daughter and I, and not Xavier. He wants to match me because he wants to be like me. I know that will change but how much of that will happen because that’s what is expected of him socially? We found leggings that were “boyish” to get us a matching pair – and he was beyond excited. He had something special with me and it was just ours.
Xavier recently wanted a new pair of leggings because it had been a little while since he’d gotten any, and he loves wearing them on lazy days around the house or to gymnastics. I told him we didn’t have any boy ones and everything was flowers. His response was “Mommy! I like flowers!” Next thing I know, he is wearing a pair of blue leggings with flowers because he likes flowers! He definitely got to keep those!
How Do We Raise a Confident Child?
Is there a magic answer here? My children will be confident in so many ways, I know this because we strive as parents to instill this on them. My question is how the hell do I teach and encourage them to express themselves however they feel fit when I don’t do that myself? Am I teaching them over time to be more reserved? If that’s their personality, by all means…but not if I’m teaching it. Reserved is a way in which I would describe myself, but was I always reserved?
How do I help keep my free spirited little girl free spirited and confident like the woman in the Starbucks cafe? How do I lovingly encourage my son to step outside of his normally reserved self? I want him to to always try something new and be brave, but how? It’s strange to see two little people that are so incredibly different from each other have so much in common with me, but differently. I love exactly who they are, but if they want to dance in the middle of Starbucks, I hope they feel supported enough by me to do so.
Gah. This parenting crap is hard. I have no answers…just questions. Who has answers? Help a sister out! LOL! I’d love to learn more about your parenting adventures and how you’ve approached raising a confident child. Join me over HERE in my Facebook group!