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Shaping My Child Through My Own Insecurities

I’m often struck by how much raising my daughter takes me back to my own childhood, to happy memories but also to some of my own insecurities. This week I was reminded more about my own insecurities and I’ve thought a lot about how I can shield Ava from hurt and from developing the same insecurities that I had as a child.

I’ve blogged about this before, but as a young child, I was deathly shy, a real wall flower! Add to that, I was always the tallest in my class and lanky, all uncoordinated limbs, freckles and the personality of a frightened mouse and it will come as no surprise to know that as a young child, I was anything but popular. I had one or two little friends and I hated everything about school, it made me scared and anxious and my mother still has flashbacks of dropping me at school and being able to hear me screaming, pleading and begging: “Mommy don’t leave me!”

My worst nightmare in the early years of my schooling were birthday parties and the handing out of party invites. The child who had party invites would be called to the front of the class with her pile of party invitations, she’d stand proudly next to the teacher, who would read out the names on the envelopes from the pile of invitations and one by one the honoured guests would be called to the front of the class to fetch their prized party invite. There were always a couple of girls not included in the party and I was almost always one of them. I hated how it made me feel. I hated how rejected it made me feel. I hated knowing that I wasn’t wanted at a classmates party, that I wasn’t pretty enough, fun enough, cool enough or smart enough to cop an invite.

I hated it. I hated how rejected, stupid and humiliated it made me feel. Now as an adult, I see the damage it it to me as a person, how that experience played a role in shaping who I am as an adult. The insecurities I have now as an adult. How I question myself now as an adult, how I feel rejected by friendships now as an adult.  How I second guess myself as a valued friend, or how I worry about what others thing/say/feel about me.

I appreciate more and more each day, the more experienced I become as a mother, how everything we learn as children, everything we say to our children, every direct and indirect message we receive as children will shape who we are and how we operate as adults.

I am so determined, as a mother, to try and shield Ava from as many negative influences as I can. I am concious of and working constantly at helping to shape her into a confident adult.

This week there were party invites handed out in her class and she did not get one! She’s still young and will hopefully not be aware of this, but hearing about it, brought back so many of my own insecurities and unpleasant memories of my own childhood, sitting in class, watching everyone proudly going up, hugging and grabbing their party invites and knowing there probably wouldn’t be one for me.

God, parenting is hard, there are so many ways to fail and while I know it is inevitable, I don’t want to see Ava hurt. Knowing that she already has additional issues to deal with, being adopted and the questions that will raise, I don’t want her burdened with issues of self worth & rejection.

Sometimes I wish I could shield her from the world.

talkingtochildren

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply Cath Jenkin

    Oh heck, you brought up some memories for me too there. I was NEVER one of the cool club. In fact, I’d go so far to say that I still am not. And I am okay with it. The flipping party politics too. It’s worse being in Parliament. Honestly, I’ll never understand it!!

    August 2, 2012 at 11:18 am
  • Reply Jenny

    OMG I cannot believe that cruel practice of handing out invites that you had to endure! At our school invites are only allowed in our books if the whole class is included. If not, invites don’t come to school. But I hear you Sharon. When I hear Dyl hasn’t cracked the nod to a party I take it very personally – he is not bothered (yet) but I know the time will come when he is. Dealing with this shithead bully now also breaks me because of my issues and I am trying so hard not to project those onto him. This is a daily battle: working out what my insecurities are and am I assuming they are his? Parenting is a lot tougher than sleeping through the night and starting solids!

    August 2, 2012 at 11:25 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Jen, you’re so right! I always hear from parents that it gets easier as our children get older, but from my own limited experience I’d say that sure, while caring for their physical needs gets easier the older they get, caring for their emotional needs is just so very much harder! My angst over sleep deprivation and eating solids is NOTHING in comparison to what we’re starting to face and I know it’s only going to get tougher the older she gets!
      GAWD – don’t even get me started on bullies, both my brother and I were bullied as young children, I dread when we get to that stage!

      August 2, 2012 at 11:29 am
  • Reply Margot

    Geez, life was different in the 70s and 80s. Or were our teachers just sadists? I’m still not quite over my Grade 3 teacher. (Well, it has only been 30 years. Give it time!)

    August 2, 2012 at 11:41 am
  • Reply cat@jugglingact

    Oh gosh, what a cruel way to do it! Ai, and it is so difficult to shield our children from all that can hurt.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:45 am
  • Reply tolovebella

    I could have written this practically word for word. I was bullied at school; also the wallflower with the braces and glasses. The nerd who everyone picked on.
    I don’t want that for Isabella. I am petrified that she will be picked on at school. As much as I want her to be popular, I also don’t want her to pick on anyone. I want her to be the one who is popular and befriends the quieter girls.
    The way I was treated made me hate school – and has affected how I trust now when it comes to friendships.

    August 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm
  • Reply Laura

    Party invites are my worst!!! I limit my kids to 10 people each so at least lots of kids are “left out” and now they both have pretty set groups but I hate the idea some child feels left out.

    School was the pits for me too especially high school!!!

    August 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm
  • Reply Lynne

    Have you ever thought of this being your time to heal? through the experiences that Ava is going to go, that you have not healed from, will help you to heal your own hurt from when you were younger.

    Embrace these experiences… invite them into your heart and be kind with yourself…

    Maybe writing a letter to your 7 year old self on things she always can know in her heart… xx

    August 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm
  • Reply Beth

    Parenting is a minefield. I really hope I can emulate DW’s parents in that even though DW might have felt socially outcast at points she never ever doubted the love anAd support of her family. She has a strong and unshakeable sense of self and is very seldom not self-confident.

    Something I have realised is that no matter how hard you try to protect your children there will be things that hurt them and that will become part of their own insecurities. Our job as parents isn’t to shield them from these event (and when then inevitably happen it is not because we failed as parents) but rather create a child who has the tools to recognise and change those things they don’t like about themselves, and be secure in the knowledge that their relationship with you and their place in your family are based on unconditional love so that it becomes a safe harbour when life becomes difficult.

    I think the way you are handling Ava’s adoption story will mean that it will become a detail in her life that she will process as she grows and it won’t become a stumbling block for her into adulthood. Even if it does she will never doubt your love for her or her place in your family.

    I think it is important for us to treat the unconventional beginnings of our own family in a similar way.

    PS my view of Ava is that she is a very social and friendly little girl. So obviously you are doing something right.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm
  • Reply Tracy

    That is so cruel to hand out invites like that! At my children’s school if you don’t invite the whole class, you can’t hand out invitations at school. I think that’s fair and avoids children feeling left out. Even so I know if I find out there was a party that my boys were not invited to I feel bad for them but also glad that at least they didn’t know.

    I think that is a wonderful approach that Lynne suggests to use our parenting of our children as a way to sort out some of our issues. I know I’m very aware of how I deal with my children and food to avoid them “inheriting” some of my issues and so far it seems to be working.

    All we can do is try our best with our children and hope they don’t end up needing too many years of therapy! 😉

    August 2, 2012 at 7:20 pm
  • Reply Melinda

    Wow…that is so cruel. I know Ava is too young to realise what is going on…but parents/parent really need to be a little more discreet. Sorry you have to endure that kinda nonsense at school…it is absolutely frightening how that can have an effect on a childs personality…..

    August 3, 2012 at 7:48 am
  • Reply Angela

    Wow that’s awful, my policy at this stage is to invite the entire class, rather that then risk hurting any child’s feelings.

    August 3, 2012 at 7:52 am
  • Reply Sian

    I know exactly what you mean. I was also shy in primary school. Not so much in high school. But those feelings of rejection really do haunt us. I’m sure that even the most popular girl will have some type of similiar memory.
    I dread J ever being hurt, I wish I could protect him from all the cruelness in the world. I just hope I will be able to be there for him when he experiences these things.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:11 am
  • Reply Robyn

    That’s so silly! Why would they hand out invites like that! Our school slips them into the kid’s bag for the parent to see. My greatest fear is that my kids will suffer at the hands of other cruel kids / teachers / etc who single out the cool/smart/pretty kids and make the others feel like CRAP. But that’s life, all we can do is instill a confidence in our kids that makes them know that those things don’t matter. Even though when you’re a kid THEY DO hey! Parenting is HARD!

    August 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm
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