Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My Daughter the Doormat

Claire is a nice girl.

She is polite.

She is kind and generous.

But, she is a doormat.

I raised her with the first three lines of this post in mind. I wanted her to be a pleasure to be around; the kind of kid other parents want their children to hang out with. And, in this way, I was successful. She has many friends and their parents always remark on her manners and overall niceness.

The doormat issue, though, was an unforeseen consequence of all this kindness, friendliness and politeness that I drilled instilled in her. Now, she is a sitting duck for more aggressive, dominant personalities. These kids just roll right over my kid.

I've taken the classes and I know that society encourages this type of behavior in our girls but that was not my intent. I am not a doormat! I am a strong, opinionated woman who doesn't take any crap from anyone. So, when my firstborn popped out with a vajayjay I thought that I could have it both ways: a polite, kind, force of nature sort of daughter.

Well, apparently, I spent too much time on the politeness and not enough on the butt kicking part of my master plan. Because now my daughter is sensitive and easily hurt. Other kids are bossy and don't consider her opinions in decision making areas.

So, now I am left with a doormat and one who spends a lot of time feeling alienated and hurt. But, how do I change this? I have tried the "buck it up" way in which I was raised but to little avail. I have coached her on saying, "I don't like to be treated that way, please stop." That seems fairly effective but I want her to be the kid that says, "Fine, you think I'm ugly? Well, not as ugly as you!" and storm off proud of herself for coming up with a snarky comeback.

In my defense, my husband is also a doormat has tendencies of a doormat. He has parent issues that have festered since the moment I entered his life and they took an immediate and total dislike of me. He avoids confrontation and wants to make everyone happy at his own expense.

Because of her more quiet ways, I find myself wanting to jump in and fix some of the sticky situations with other kids but I know that I cannot and must not. I will not always be there to work things out for her or rescue her. And this is hard. So hard. It is certainly one of the hardest things I have encountered yet in parenting because, for so long, it has been my job to protect her from the hurts of this cold world and the jerks who inhabit it. But, parenting is as much about teaching a child to be a productive adult as it is setting rules and example. It takes all the restraint this hothead can muster to hold back and not do some butt kicking on Claire's behalf but I manage most of the time because she is going to have to learn to be her own best friend and hero and it is better to learn now when the hurts are relatively small and minor than later when they are not.

Man, this parenting gig is hard.


MamaGeek said...

She sounds amazing.

I think most of at one point WERE Claire. It royally sucks a duck that people take advantage of kindness. But When she gets older, I'm guessing, she'll stand her own ground.

You taught her right. Being fair and firm is an acquired trait.

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

Poor Claire. I know it's tough to be the doormat, hon. I've been there, but it took that last straw and I got a backbone.

Dana said...

Mean people suck but I guess they're there to help the weak to become strong.
We have the same issue with our oldest. He is such a sweet boy but he gets walked all over. But he is learning to voice at certain situation.

Kellan said...

I think it is hard to find the balance and as long as you continue to advise Claire on how to be nice - but still protect herself/stand up for herself - hopefully she will learn the balance. It's hard. My husband is a bit of a doormat sometimes too and yet - when he is running his business, he steps up and takes care of himself and his business. I think nice people make it further in life - even if they are ocassionally stepped on by "mean" people. I am not a door mat either and I would not consider myself to be as nice as my husband and people LOVE my husband. Being so loved counts for A LOT! Claire sounds like a wonderful girl and it sounds like you have done a good job. Hopefully the rest will fall into place over time.

This is another great subject/topic! I would love to feature you again as guest blogger using this post. Would you be okay if I used this post On The Upside? LMK - Kellan

Melissa said...

You're right. This parenting gig is hard. And it just gets harder.

And I agree with MG, if you keep modeling firmness to her, she'll pick it up and really be a force to be reckoned with. :)

Nap Warden said...

I agree with Dana...mean people suck! It's hard to be sensitive. All I can do is send {hugs}

Missy said...

If you figure this out, you will have to let me know. Emmy sounds a lot like Claire. She is outgoing, friendly, sweet, and nice to everyone. But take one snarky kid at the playground who won't let her play with him, and she is reduced to tears, and it breaks my heart. She just doesn't understand that not everyone is nice like she is. :(

Anonymous said...

Just dropping in to say "hi". I have alot of catching up to do!


She is a wonderful child....bless her heart! This age is so tough for them isn't it? I have an almost nine year old, as you know..I am so worried about him enduring the same kind of thing.

mamajil said...

Hi I found you through the flip side blog...
I think its important that we do let our kids solve their own squabbles and situations if you teach her to solve her own situations (with your guidance) she will most likely out grow the door mat stage. One of my daughters had a little friend that seemed to bring out the door mat syndrome in her and since she wouldn't take my instruction and stand up to this little friend I just "punished" her by saying You have proved to me that this situation is not one you can handle because of that I am not gonna let you play and hang out with this little friend until you feel like you can stand up to her....it took a little time but she finally can stand up for herself.

Karen of Sillymonkeez said...

Sorry I've been MIA. I've been redesigning my blog and then setting up a new one. Maybe you can sign her up for something that will help her build confidence, like drama, cheerleading, or a sport? I know my son use to be quiet, but taking taekwon do has built his confidence up a lot. Sorry I don't have any other suggestions.

Oh, btw, you've been tagged. :D


Karen of the MomDot Street Team