There is nothing more insidious than others opinions of us. These opinions often distort who we are and unduly influence who we become. We are not all affected by the same degree, case in point, my twins. While Baby B is a free spirit who cares little for other’s opinion of who she is or who she should be, Baby A seemed, until recently, highly affected by other’s opinions.
It was not uncommon for Baby A to tear up over someone’s comment. One of her common phrases was, “what you said made me sad.” Her statement is heartfelt, but even I, her own mother, can admit that it becomes draining to hear this on a daily basis. I do want her to express her feelings but am not comfortable with the idea that her feelings are so easily influenced by others for as a classmate, who reduced her to tears pointed out, “people are always making you sad.” While in the past I used listen to the source of her “sadness,” and helped her trouble shoot, now, I have taken a new approach.
I still allow Baby A to express her sadness. Instead of trying to figure out why something was said to her or what can be done about it, I simply respond, “Other’s opinions of you are none of your business.” I say it kindly but forcefully. “Just because others believe it doesn’t make it real.” The first time she heard it, she looked stunned. I had to question myself, as you can imagine, and wondered if I had taken the incorrect approach. However, she dropped the usual melodrama attached to her statement and moved on. Since then not only myself but Baby B remind her periodically that “other’s opinions of you are none of your business.” Baby A always makes a grumpy face but always moves on. Drama done!
The moral of the story, children need our support and protection, but not always or with everything. We need to give them space to grow and learn. We cannot smother them with our protection throughout life. Admittedly, I am not always ready to let them deal with reality, but I do understand that they are often ready before I am. The truth is that I need to be more honest and allow them to grow up.