My name is Emily, and I am a people pleaser.
Until I had a daughter who looked up to and mimicked me, I never saw the problem with this. But when I saw her begin to take on this trait, I wanted to ensure she knew she didn’t have to please people. I wanted her to know she is strong and able to hold on to her innate kindheartedness and warmth.
My desire to raise someone who understands the importance of and balance between kindness and strength became apparent when I watched her handle a situation with another child. As she was playing at the park one day, another child came over and started to disrupt her game. She politely told him to stop because she was playing with her little brother. The boy didn’t acknowledge her and continued to mess with her. She tried again, this time a little firmer, while still using her manners. She knew she had the strength to stand up for herself, and she also knew she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or be mean.
I was proud she continued to use her manners and was polite. I was proud she stuck up for herself and made her position known. I could see how part of her wanted to let the boy meddle because she didn’t want to upset him. But I saw an even stronger part of her stick up for herself without being rude or unkind.
How do we find balance? How do we teach our children to remain kind and loving, while also strong and courageous? Can these traits go together?
Finding balance is an important part of parenting. We find balance between the emotions of sadness because our kids are growing so fast, and excitement that we get to see them grow, learn, and thrive. We find balance between wanting to help, take care of, and keep them close, all while finding ways for them to learn responsibility so they’ll become effective adults. We find balance between teaching them to be kind and loving toward one another, and being able to stand up for themselves and their beliefs.
I want our children to know the world needs more kind people. We need to raise more people who are loving and show Jesus’ love everywhere they go. But we also need a generation of strong, brave, and courageous people who stick up for their beliefs, and who won’t be pushed around or fall into a people-pleasing trap. We want them to know their voices are heard and that no one can take their voices away.
These traits can absolutely go together. When we are loving and kind, we can also be strong and powerful. Our five-year-old can be polite as she tells another child she would like to play alone with her little brother. She can be kind to all the kids at school and find ways to show love to everyone, without being a pushover or people-pleaser.
The first step is for them to see it in their parents. I can model how to treat everyone with kindness, while also standing firm in who I am and what I believe. I can model the strengths of kindness and courage. I can take advantage of the everyday moments when I can live this out for my kids to see. I can teach and model empathy, manners, hospitality, love, and kindheartedness. As a family, we can find ways to reach out to others with warmth, concern, and blessings–without falling into a people-pleasing life.
This all starts at home, continues to grow on the playground, and fully matures in adulthood. We can be kind and strong. We can raise a generation that understands the importance of love, kindness, empathy, courage, and strength. Just think of what a great generation we have the opportunity to raise.