January 5, 2011 at 1:00 am | Posted in Lollipop | 23 Comments
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Lollipop and I are stuck. I’m not exactly sure how we got here or how we get through.

But I know we’re stuck.

She’s four. She’s fiercely independent. She wears princess dresses and cowboy boots with unabashed confidence. She knows what she wants, and she goes for it. She’s smart; she’s creative; she’s a planner and a problem-solver. These are the qualities I love about her.

I know these traits will carry her far in life. But they perplex me. Because, at age four, they sometimes don’t translate well.

Sometimes, she comes across as stubborn. Or bossy. Sometimes, when’s she’s check-mating her brother out of dessert, the hooded frog towel, the green shovel, or whatever he has that she wants, she comes across as, well, manipulative.

That’s where we’re stuck.

This little personality of hers is powerful. It’s strong. It’s the root of the successful woman she will one day be.

But I find myself balking. At her independence. At her resolve. At her cunning. My first and strongest reaction is to thwart, to quash, to make her be gentle and docile, as I am.

But she’s not me. She’s her. I know that.

She’s her. And that’s who I want her to be.

But I don’t know how to guide her, how to nurture her, how to help her use her powerful personality for good. I mean, what do I know about being fierce and strong and confident? I play Scrabble and refuse to keep score. A pair of red flip-flops is the most adventurous thing in my closet. And I won’t ride a roller coaster for a million dollars.

Acknowledging where I am is a big step. I’ve read some books and come up with some things to try. That’s another big step. But making permanent changes in the way I respond and relate to my daughter is the biggest step of all.

And, though I wish I didn’t need to, I’m proud of myself for taking these steps. For taking them now, before it’s too late, before she feels the friction, before I lose her unflinching trust.

Before I’m still stuck. And she’s long gone.

What do you admire most about your child’s personality? How are you and your child different? And how do you both negotiate and nurture those differences?


This post is part of Amber’s new Non-Judgmental Parenting meme, where she invites us to share one thing we are proud of doing as parents. Join in the conversation at Making the Moments Count.



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  1. An amazing thing to acknowledge and learn from, Stacia. I don’t know your Lollipop, but I do have more than a passing acquaintance with those strong headstrong, independent types. I don’t think that they need different parenting fundamentally – the same important lessons are true for all personality types. But I think firm boundaries are critical as is the even-more-importance of teaching them compassion and respect for others. Then, really, let her fly. There are lessons she will learn about her place with others that you just can’t teach her. They will be hard lessons and she will hit the ground with a thud that hurts her deeply at times, but they are lessons she needs so very much. Let her experience things for herself and know that she always has her beautiful mother to come home to. x

  2. I admire you for wanting her to flourish as just the person she is! You’re such a loving momma.

  3. For some REALLY good tips and a new way of parenting that is about connection and communication with your child and also understanding your own process…which really can be the hardest part, try Robin Grille’s Heart to Heart Parenting…it is fantastic – a new way of emotionally inteligent parenting…that is especially good for helping navigate this stuff. And well done for being so honest about it all, it’s all too easy just to try and mould our kids into who we want them to be, rather than nurturing their individual spirits.

    • Thanks, Joanna. I just reserved another one by her, Parenting for a Peaceful World, at the library. Can’t wait to get my hands on this one, too.

      • That’s a great one too….hope it helps, some days are harder than others!! Love your blog.

  4. Oh Stacia. I understand this. The vacillating between joy and frustration at your child. I think you are awesome for nurturing her through her independence even though you two have different personalities.

    (Seriously, lady, you brought tears to my eyes this morning. I suppose I understand this concept all too well.)

  5. Love, love, love this post. I can relate to every word of it and in fact, I tried to write about the same thing a couple of months ago but with much more difficulty and many more words. I admire how you can be so succinct and eloquent at the same time.

    I hear you. I have a 6 y/o boy is also strong, strong-willed, persistent and individualistic. He knows what he wants and he will not take no for an answer. These qualities that make us want to pull our hair out as parents – as I had read in a child development book – are the same qualities that will make our children successful leaders as adults. I am so not built that way, and I have to/want to nurture my son in a way that he can be persistent but respectful; strong willed but flexible.

    Keep us posted if you find any miracles or ideas!

  6. What a beautiful post, Stacia. It’s wonderful that you have such awareness of both of you, something that makes you an awesome mother.

  7. I have a stubborn streak that I see in my big girl too. I have to remember that tenacity is not a bad thing. And it’s not me she’s fighting (most of the time). Sometimes I just have to breath and remember that the best lessons are ones I cannot teach.

    How do we teach any child to be compassionate even while they seek what they want and need?

  8. I love this Stacia.

    My husband is VERY social and loves a crowd. The more the merrier.
    I can do this is small doses, but I’m much more intraverted.
    On this continuum, Munchie is somewhere between Hubs and the middle. So there are some days when although I would be content to stay in my jammies and read books all day, I know she would be happier out on a playdate – laughing and playing and being social.

    When Munchie and Lollipop are ruling the world, we’ll be glad we let those personalities shine!

  9. Isn’t life an exercise in being stuck? This so resonates with me. I see aspects of myself in each of my girls. Glorious aspects and worrisome ones. I see flashes of strength and uniqueness and pathos. How to nurture and mold and let them grow? I haven’t the faintest. But good, so good, to know that I am not alone in pondering these big questions.

  10. Wow. This is fascinating. And hard. And cool.

    One of my sons was rather like this; the other, quite the opposite. So here’s my question – thinking outside the box a bit – could you let her guide you? What would happen if you became just a little bit more fierce?

    You seem to admire her traits, even view (some of) them as attributes that will assure her success later in life. Can you nurture those by watching and joining in, and letting go a bit to do so? And as for the others, rein her in, thus engaging in give-and-take?

    (I know – I’m making it sound so much easier than it is.)

    She sounds very smart, and I know at 4 they understand plenty. What if you negotiate some with her, try telling her you’d like to be more like her in some ways, but maybe have her learn to be more like you in others, and explain, in terms she can understand – why? And then, if you need to, frame it in some sort of game, or fun, or specified timeframe like a trial “switch up” of who is who?

    Cunning and resolve. A tough combo. I remember discussions over the years (from very early) about why lying doesn’t work, why talking everyone else out of things isn’t always wise, etc etc etc, not to mention why trust and sharing is essential, or you would never know what’s real, you would never know the pleasure of someone else’s pleasure. These are such hard traits to capitalize on without allowing them to run rampant.

    I think you can celebrate her extraordinary joy and confidence, taking your cues from her, and maybe bit by by getting unstuck through trying some things her way, and seeing if you can’t get her to try others yours.

    Just thoughts off the top of my head. These are the kids who challenge us and make us grow, and man are we proud of them as we see it happen. But it’s so much work!

  11. I was this girl growing up. My parents worked hard to make me aware that I had these traits so that when I was older, I could use them wisely. Lollipop may be of the age where you can start to open her eyes to these “powers” so that she can use them for good not evil.

    My tenacity and stubbornness have served me so well in my life, even if they sometimes caused a great deal of angst to my parents.

  12. As ever, I have no advice to offer, only the certainty that Lollipop is in the best possible hands with a mom who knows and loves her as well as you do. My guess is that as she grows up, she’ll become a little more like you and you’ll become a little more like her. Watch Out World (in the best possible way)!!!!

  13. I know I will be where you are right now. In fact, even at two, my daughter’s exhibiting signs of such fierce independence that I have a feeling it will be a challenge to guide her. My issue is that she and I are similar in many ways, and there are traits about me I don’t like that I see in her, and that scares me.

    I have no advice – only earnestly following your adventures in parenting your daughter hoping that I could learn something too. Keep on keeping. For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing an amazing job as it is.

    p.s. you won’t catch me on a roller coaster either!

  14. My daughter has some lovely fierceness that, when it comes to getting what she wants, can seem manipulative…which scares me.
    Reading books about feisty girls is good, encouraging and praising compassion and sweetness towards her brother is good, and mostly, just loving her, which you do without thinking twice, is good.

  15. When you figure it out, let me know. I’m stuck right now with my teen daughter. I have no idea where I went wrong/what can I do/should I do anything at all. Parenting is not for the weak.

  16. Changing the way we respond to them is So. Hard. Jack is pretty sensitive and doesn’t like to frustrate anyone; he usually responds well to “No!,” and is likely to run and cry if anyone but us has to say it to him. Great, right? Except for that “usually” part. I’m so used to his obedience and even temper that when he’s being stubborn and angry, I’m thrown and don’t respond with the calm and patience that I should.

  17. Loved this. I had a similar thought process about my daughter this morning. I think it’s safe to say that so long as your intent is to give her empathy and respect that matches her fierce independence and cunning, she’ll be a rock star adult. The getting there will likely not be easy — but she’s in good hands.

  18. My daughter is very similar. I fear that in a different setting she could morph into a “mean girl”. Children flock to her and she can sometimes use it to her advantage. I am grateful that we homeschool so that this tendency isn’t used for evil at an early age!

    Might I recommend rewarding her for kind gestures? As in, if she does something for her brother, showering her with PRAISE rewards, not a physical reward. Because that would just make the kind gesture something to gain with.

    It’s rough. But kindness isn’t just a female attribute. I don’t think that teaching Corinne how to be nurturing is quashing her natural tendencies for strong-will and independence. At least, I hope it doesn’t!

  19. I can really relate to this post, Stacia. My older daughter is loud, outspoken, vibrant — basically the opposite of me. When she was younger, I had a very hard time handling her because whatever she felt, she would express. My in-laws were very critical, too.

    But I have found that as she gets older (she’s 8 now), it has become one of the traits that I love most about her.

  20. I have said before that our daughters are similar..I am having the same struggle with my soon to be 8year old… I decided to take a parenting class so that I could be the best parent to her had the first session yesterday actually.. Wishing you luck
    wish me luck too

  21. Stacia, my daughter is the same way. Just filled with strong will and a determination that makes me pause. I am sometimes at a loss and wonder how my almost five year old can elicit feelings of love and angst all at the same time. If you find a way, please let me know. In the meantime, I am going to check out the Parenting for a Peaceful World book.

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