As a parent you want your children to take your word for it. I’ve written before about my anxiety about my daughter’s desire to be “in charge,” or “in the spotlight.” I’ve talked to her, at her, with her, around her, about how you want to make people feel important, that you want your friends to shine and feel good about themselves when they’re around you. And that’s one thing: making others feel heard. But here’s another: self-sacrifice in the service of being liked. Let someone else run the show, let them be the star sometimes while you take a back seat, this way you’ll be more likable. Should I be mortified that I’ve said this to her? My gut answer is, “yes.” Years from now, you will read this and want to shake yourself as a mother. You’re not raising her right. But what if I felt the same way if I’d given her the advice that she should “always go for what she wants, follow her joy, don’t fear what others will think, or worry if you’ll be liked. Be you and the rest will fall into place.” Which is more cringe-worthy?
You want to show friends that you are willing to compromise because it demonstrates a certain respect, or at least a respect for the system of reciprocity.
Well, hello Pot, meet Kettle.
DOES COMPROMISE DEADEN OR DEEPEN US?
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for the past 13 years, you’d know that I’ve seen compromise as a type of deadening of self. Sure, it’s a mature act, and it shows compassion for others. But I haven’t fully guzzled down the compromise Kool-Aid. A big part of me believes that we were brought into this world with specific talents and personality strengths, and little by little, we conform. We play nice and catch the curse of the good girl. We try to please others, so we’re accepted and liked, and dare I say, loved. And as we hunger for this acceptance, we move further and further away from our truest, best, “meant-to-be” selves. So, I’m deeply conflicted on how to best guide my girl. Who has an answer? Please share if you do because I suspect that I’m going to be circling this exact issue in the years to come.
I want her to keep her friends. I want her to be invited and included, for her to be liked. Why? Because I want her to suffer just a little bit less, to learn this lesson the easier way. I want her to feel safe and comfortable, to feel worthy of love. You don’t feel safe and at-ease if you don’t feel liked by your peers. It’s no fun playing with someone who always gets her way, on her terms. I want her to make room for the ideas of others. But no matter how much I remind her of the consequences of her actions, no matter how much we role-play, she still can’t help but behave the way she always has: as a #girlboss. (Who else has started watching this Netflix series?)
IS BEING LIKABLE MORE IMPORTANT FOR GIRLS?
I think we WOULD be having the same conversation if this were about a boy, by the way. Or would we? I’d like to think so, but the dynamic between boys is different, isn’t it? I don’t even know. I know we shouldn’t use the word “bossy” because you never hear boys described as “bossy,” just “he’s a leader.” I guess here’s what it comes down to: do you care about doing things your way more than you care about being liked? Or can you find a balance, or master the art of persuasion, to achieve both? How about seeing how far you can get with an honest compliment? How about shifting your focus to lifting up those around you without losing sight of what you want? Or maybe being likable is over-rated.
I don’t have the answer, but maybe TV will. My last epiphany surrounding this topic of being an attention-hog came from my watching Fame High. Maybe I’ll find a an answer to this current question of likability vs. bossypants in this Netflix infographic…
Looks like I’ll be watching the second episode of season 1 of Fuller House with my daughter. Of course she’s already seen it; she loves that show. But it will make the discussion all the easier, and more relevant, if it comes on the heels of a show she already enjoys.
Jump into spring with family-time on Netflix.
As a Netflix #StreamTeam member…
In exchange for sharing 1 post each month about Netflix programming, I receive a subscription to Netflix. Though I often share more often because I overshare like it’s a sport. Opinions are all mine.