By: Anna M. Aquino.
I remember the desperation I felt growing up just to fit in with the crowd. I can remember the nights I cried because I wasn’t just like everyone else, and I can remember the heartache. Retrospectively I was a kid that just wanted to fit in. My mother remembers asking me the proverbial question as a grade school child “If all of my friends jumped off a cliff would I?” She laughs now to tell the story that without batting an eyelash or an ounce of sarcasm I responded “Yes.”
Maybe this is why as an adult, when I came into knowing of who I was and excepting myself, it was like someone had gone into a room and turned on the light. I was going to stop living my life in such a way that I tried to fit in with everyone and was simply going to start enjoying who my Creator meant me to be on this earth. There is real freedom in that. I find it so sad that so many people spend their lives playing a role that is never really them.
Then, I had my own children. It’s difficult for me to realize that as adolescence kicks in overdrive there are moments and there are days that they just want to fit in with their peers. In some respects peer pressure can be really healthy. I can remember while I was growing up, the people that kept me out of a lot of trouble were my friends because they were not as prone to sudden moments of rebellion as I was in those days. They kept me from making many a stupid choice. I want to teach my children that it’s okay to fit in with the crowd yet, it’s also okay to be different. It’s okay to be the pink haired girl in a sea of normal colors. It’s okay to wear argyle of strips are in, and it’s okay to be the only child who doesn’t seem to appreciate the next teeny bop pop star.
I tell my girls often that if our Creator wanted us to be like everyone else He would have made us that way. Maybe my words can come across like an antiquated
speech to them, but I mean what I say. I want them to learn early to embrace their uniqueness. I want them to learn early to love themselves and not to compromise in order to fit into a group or for someone to like them. I want to raise my girls to be true to themselves. Perhaps if I teach them young when they are older they won’t struggle as much as many girls. Perhaps when their old they won’t jump on the bandwagons but learn to make their own paths.
Here are some suggestions that I’ve come up with:
• Encourage your daughters in their strengths and help them embrace their weaknesses. If you have one daughter whose musically inclined and another who isn’t so much don’t make a big deal out of it. Find where the other child will thrive and encourage that. Too many times parents try to force cookie cutter molds on their children. Just because one likes one thing doesn’t mean the other one will.
• When you’re daughter comes home upset because the “queen bee” is being mean to her, realize it’s okay if she isn’t the “queen bee’s” best friend. Encourage your child that the world she sees now in school will one day end, and the world is a lot bigger than the “tales of a fifth grade drama queen”. Talk to her about finding friends that love her for her, and stop encouraging fake friendships. I still remember my father’s advice once. I was upset because some friends up and decided that they didn’t like me. Maybe his response was simplistic but he said, “Maybe it’s time you find some new friends.” I remember at the time thinking but dad do you know how small my school is? But he was right. Life is too short to get caught up in whose in one day and whose out the next.
• Teach your children that genuine friends love at all times, and love regardless of someone having a bad moment. True friends don’t get the juicy gossip then tell it to the “queen bee.”
• Model true friendships by being a friend to your daughters. Don’t misunderstand me here. There is a time when you need to be a parent to your girls, but there also can be a time where you can be their friend. If they confide in you about something you don’t need to tell everyone what they confided in you about. Don’t embarrass them in front of their friends. While friends may come and go in their lives you as their parent will be there forever.
Teach your children young to embrace their uniqueness. Teach them that they will go further in life just by knowing who they are and what their purpose is. Learn to love them for who they are. Give them roots, because in that security they’ll grow wings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anna M. Aquino is a super fabulous woman of God, wife and mother of two daughters. Her bi-weekly Biblical teaching blog is read around the world and translated in India.That can be viewed at www.annamaquino.blogspot.com She’s been published in various publications. In addition Ms. Aquino has a new book,Cursing the Church or Helping it? Exposing the
spirit of Balaam set to release with Destiny Image Publishers in March of 2012. If you would like to learn more about her please visit her website at www.annamaquino.com.
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