We have four children. Each of them has basically been raised the same, save for the fact that one is a boy and the other three are girls – and the boy is all boy while the girls all are different, in their own right.
My husband has a PhD and a strong leadership personality. I’m not near as educated, but I did graduate from college. Growing up the way I did has led to me being quite the person in charge of my own life. I don’t do well with others telling me right or wrong, I rely on my faith and my joy for life to lead me in the directions I want to go. I haven’t been a follower since I was quite young. I’d also like to mention that both my DH and myself are scout leaders – and the main goal for those organizations is leadership.
Three of our children are leaders…who could care less what anyone else is doing, they are on a quest to live their own lives, on their terms, and obstacles are no match for their ability to press onward to their goals. We may butt heads over their leadership qualities, but we know they learned them from us.
Yet, we have one daughter who is a follower. She has made her whole existance based on what others think, feel, do, etc. She does not let her individuality shine through, she chooses to be just like everyone else. She wants to participate in the things that everyone else participates in, wants to wear the clothes they wear and wants to act like them, too. Of course, with the latter, we’ve had to have words already – and school just started on Monday this week. I will not tolerate sass, disrespect or poor manners. We have taught them respect and manners their whole lives – she knows how to be good. The sass is a hard one, because I have been known <ahem> to sass a time or two in my life – but, I can tell you that with my own parents, a good sass meant a good smack to the face. No, we do not do that to our children. But, talking isn’t doing much good, either.
We allow our kids to choose one thing they want to do during the school week, and we choose the other. For instance, this daughter I speak of chooses to be in band (she’s amazingly gifted with musical instruments) and we choose for her to take piano lessons. It worked great last year and we had no problems.
With four kids, each of them doing 2 things a week – there goes our entire week and we rarely have a day off!
But, we now have an issue with this one daughter who is a follower. She wants to add a third thing to her week – volleyball. It’s not because she’s athletically talented – quite the opposite, actually. She’s the blondest brunette you’ve ever seen! But, all of her friends are in volleyball, so she believes she HAS to be there, too. And she will not listen to reason, she would rather give up her already-chosen weekly “thing” to participate in volleyball – because her friends aren’t involved in her weekly choice, but they are all going to be in volleyball.
I’m having a hard time with this. Trying to figure out how to parent a follower is difficult, in and of itself. But, trying to reason with an emotional pre-teen who just moved up to middle school is even more difficult. She doesn’t see what she’s doing to herself – how she’s “running with the pack” instead of being true to herself and her gifts and taking them as far as she can go.
We don’t have any answers yet, but we’re working on it. She knows she’s not athletic. She knows music is her gift. But, she also wants to be part of the “in” crowd and follow them (over a cliff) wherever they go.
I want my child to be happy, but not at the expense of her self-esteem or her loss of time with her true gifts. And gee, we let one do more then we have to let the other three do more – and there just isn’t enough adults to go around!