I cannot be around for my daughter all the time. #NoteToSelf

I’ve forgotten the number of times I’ve rushed in to extricate my daughter from difficult, the various incidents where I’ve valiantly rescued her from her battles. Guilty of it yourself? Yeah, that loving-parent heart just doesn’t let up, does it? But it’s okay, really. I write this as much for you as I write to myself, to remind myself that I need to resist the temptation to do this. I cannot and will not be around for my daughter all the time and she must learn to handle things on her own.

My daughter was extremely sensitive when she was younger. Her friends at school meant the world to her and she would often go out of her way to help them, spend time with them and even carry stuff for them for eat. She believed that those children she cared so much about also cared for her in the same way. I tried in a number of ways to dissuade her from getting so close and attached to people with whom she had only just formed an association. She would push back, insist that I was wrong, and at times even stop speaking with me because I doubted her friends. I tried repeatedly and then stopped: she had to learn this in the way that life deemed appropriate and I knew it would hurt.

It was just a regular old day, I got a frantic call from her at work imploring me to come back home. She had never done this before. On reaching home I found her huddled up in bed, teary eyed and miserable. It broke my heart to see her cry for hours lamenting over how those kids had “stabbed her in the back” by speaking ill about her and even making fun of her sensitive behaviour. I could not stand to see her in so much pain. After she gave vent to all that she felt, my share of the talking began.

I reminded her about my attempts to look out for her – without blaming her. We spoke for a very long time; that day she resolved to stand up for herself. I knew she had learned her lesson, albeit the hard way and one that felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest.

Despite my heartbreak, I realise that this experience taught her the value of self-advocacy and the importance of speaking up for herself. She understood the value of expressing her needs and preferences and can now apply it to her everyday life and even help some of the kids in school to speak up for themselves. I am certain that if I had continued to step in each time that I believed, she needed me; my daughter would not be the strong self-advocating individual she is today.

As the child begins to understand, involving them in activities and letting them have a say will help them to become more confident individuals with unshakeable belief in their abilities. After the incident I just narrated, I started practicing ‘letting go’ in other areas too. Whenever we went to a restaurant, instead of ordering for her, I would hand her the menu and tell her to pick out the dish she would like to eat. I would offer my suggestions and let her know if I thought that she would not like it and then let her take the final decision. Much to my amazement, she often chose correctly and only on two or three amusing instances, her contorted face clearly explained how the dish tasted. I still tease her about it – but she knows a lot better now!

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