By Robin P.
Lillianna has her Daddy's personality. She is kind,compassionate and loving and she is always the peace maker. I'm proud of those qualities but sometimes I worry about her. I don't want her to sacrifice her own convictions for those of someone who is more assertive.
When she was 3-years-old, she attended her friend Ethan's birthday party at an amusement park. Rich put her on an airplane ride that she had to share with another boy from the party. As the ride went up and down, Rich saw the boy hit her. Lillianna flinched and tried to move away but she was strapped in and had nowhere to go. After the ride,R ich asked Lillianna if that boy had hit her. She said yes. He asked why she didn't hit him back. She said quietly,"I didn't want to be rude to Ethan's friend, Daddy." We tried to explain that no one had the right to hit her or treat her badly. We hoped that would help her if she were ever faced with this situation again.
Two years ago, when Lillianna was in first grade, she and her friend Zach pretended to get married at recess. Zach's mom, Linda and I joked about being in-laws. Lillianna and Zach continued to have a close friendship and last year the talk of being married faded into the background. Linda and I were pleased that the novelty wore off and that the kids weren't focused on that anymore.
Recently, Linda laughed and said, "I heard the kids got married again." I was surprised since I hadn't heard that news from my daughter who normally tells me everything. I casually asked Lillianna about it the other day. She said,"I don't want to talk about it."
I asked her to tell me everything.
She gave a tired little sigh and explained that she re-married against her will. Her friend Angela insisted that Lillianna would be happier if she were back with Zach. First of all, there is no "back." They're not teenagers who are dating. They are friends who act like typical 8-year-olds. Second of all, Lillianna is a very happy child. I believe Angela might be putting her own wishes on to Lillianna.
I have seen Lillianna and Angela play together. Usually, Angela wants Lillianna to do what she tells her to. Even when Lillianna says she doesn't want to, Angela pleads with her until she gives in. I figured this was something that Lillianna would eventually work out for herself.
Lillianna said she told Angela several times that she didn't want to marry Zach again. They were just friends, but Angela is not one to take no for an answer. She handed Lillianna a bouquet of dandelions and conducted a ceremony.
I asked Lillianna why she didn't just walk away. Her answer stopped my heart. "It was just easier to give in to her, Mom."
After all I have taught her about being assertive and not giving in, I was sad to learn that she was still not comfortable standing her ground. I assured her that I was not angry or upset but that we needed to discuss this situation.
"This is exactly how your friends will get you to smoke pot and drink alcohol when you are older. They will keep nagging you and trying to get you to give in. If it's something that goes against what you really want to do, you have to be strong enough to say NO!"
Lillianna never wants to hurt anyone's feelings, which is commendable, but I am afraid that she is going to be a doormat for her more assertive friends. There are several children in her life who are quite overpowering and I want her to be able to have fun with them but I don't want her to give in to their wishes if they are against her own beliefs.
How do you teach your child to stand up for herself?
Robin P. lives with her husband and daughter in a suburb south of Boston.