Picture replacing pink bedroom carpet littered with ten years worth of earring backs and bobby pins.
Imagine allowing your 15-year-old to paint her room in stripes of bright orange, bright pink, and bright red. Oh – and with bright yellow stripes.
Or how about dozens of sleepovers where no one ever sleeps. (Some clever mom should re-term that. Not me – I’m still catching up on 26 years of sleep.)
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The not-so sugar and spice facts
You were one once. You know what where I’m coming from here, mom.
They’re a –
High heels and tutus
They love to dress up. From a very young age, they learn that high heels and makeup are fun.
It begins with the plastic dress-up shoes and the feather boas.
They put them on as soon as they get out of bed, pop their pacifiers back in, and trundle down the steps to breakfast.
(Oh, and don’t forget the silver tiaras.)
There's pink stuff everywhere. And hair. LOTS of hair. Click To Tweet
Every time my husband donned a clean shirt, he complained about finding a long blonde, curly hair stuck to it.
“Get used to it. You’re living in a female dominated house-hold.” I quipped, inwardly gloating.
He used to claim that once the girls all got old enough for “Aunt Martha” (aka their monthlies), he would be building a man-cave in the basement for the “men” of the household. (That would be he and my son.)
You know the part on the movie “Toy Story” where Sid’s sister gets ahold of Buzz Lightyear and sits him down for a tea party? She lines him up with her teddy bears and dolls around the table. He has on an apron and a flowered hat and has lost his mind.
That’s how my husband and son felt sometimes. Delirious from being surrounded by girl hormones.
Oh yeah, we’re going there.
Even from a young age they exhibit the warning signs.
When my oldest was little, people used to tell me I should take her and move to Hollywood. She adored all Disney princesses, sang “A Whole New World” verbatim, and kissed a boy by the time she was 4.
I’m crying now that I didn’t. The teen years did not disappoint.
My littlest used to bite her sister on a regular basis.
Of course, not without provocation, to be sure. I recall one such incident in particular where the younger sat in her car seat with her blankie over her head – a silent declaration for some space. Big sis took it upon herself to invade the bubble and stick her finger under the blanket.
Imagine crying. Lots of crying from both – once I flew back there and took care of the situation.
They come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities.
I ended up with two strong-willeds (which will henceforth be referred to as “Swillers”), and one pleaser/sneaky instigator.
The 3-year-old Swiller insisted on wearing flared pants every day of her life. She embodied the essence of “picky” when it came to her clothes, hair, possessions, and personal bubble.
The 5-year-old pleaser/instigator just wanted to laugh, tease, collect toilet paper rolls for crafts, and drive her younger sister nuts with her somewhat messy side of the room. Talk about the odd couple!
The 12 year-old Swiller tested her limits every. single. day. And she had a strong affinity towards the male gender.
Thank goodness I had a boy among this bunch to make me laugh!
I have so many memories rolling around in my head like a steady stream of swirly, inter-connecting clouds.
Some, to be sure, a test of my limits. But mostly good. Very, very good.
If you are in the throes of parenting girls, there’s one main thing still resonating through my mind.
Talking is her love language
Girls have a need to be heard. Some like to chatter, some share deep thoughts, but all girls need a listening ear.
I have one that doesn’t share deeply that often, but when she does, I’m all ears.
I have two that talk just about non-stop. And I’m still all ears.
(Although I do admit to turning the kid’s CDs up really loud in the car to drown out the chatter when they were pre-school age.)
The point is – be present.Be aware when they want to share, and even if it is just chatter, listen. Click To Tweet
It’s important to them!
One of mine wanted to tell me every single detail about her day after school, but she was easily distracted and it took her forever to get the story out (“And um, uhhh, um…and uhhh”). This was painful some days, to say the least.
But I rode it out. I maintained eye contact. Listened, interacted, asked questions.
That little tween is now an adult, and because I listened, she still shares just about everything with her ole’ ma.
As a side note, it’s important to provide journals or diaries for them. They like to write down their thoughts. That way if you have one that’s not quite so verbal, at last she is expressing her thoughts on paper.
Self expression is important to a girl.
Shut up and listen
The biggest take-away from this is: listen. Just shut up for a minute, clear your thoughts of your opinions about what she is telling you and how you’re going to tell her why she shouldn’t do whatever it is she’s talking about.
Even if you know for a fact you are going to have to correct her way of thinking, ride out the conversation. Hear her out.
And then, calmly, gently, and lovingly, correct.
Excuse me, did you think I meant that’s what I always did?
Ok, so I had my moments just like everyone else.
But. I learned not to get on that rollercoaster.
You know the one – the “emo” rollercoaster.
When she starts to board, don’t get on it with her.
You stay on the ground, sister.
She may go up, around upside down and sideways – emotions are funny like that.
You just make sure you’re right there, grounded, when she gets off.
You don’t do anyone any favors by getting on that ride!
So get ready, mom. Get your listening ears on, and be prepared for the marathon.Take it a day at a time. Before you know it, she'll be grown and out on her own. Click To Tweet
But she will return to confide in you, if you did your homework.
If you listen, she’ll be back.
Remember my oldest? That “Swiller” who taught me all I needed to know about raising the strong-willed child?
She’s my bestie now. She’ll tell you that.
I chalk it all up to the listening ear. And God – LOTS of God.
And she is a voice for God now. She owns her faith.
I always knew if I could channel that will into positive avenues, she would be
AWESOME. And, she is.
(More on raising Swillers next week. There’s good news, mom!)
Hey, I’m not the perfect mom. And I don’t have perfect kids.
The truth is, there’s no magic formula.
But this has worked for me.
You might want to try it out. And I would love to hear your suggestions or comments on how you are raising your girls!
I hope you’ll join me for Part 2: Challenge of the strong-willed child – 6 tips to survival!! (Because my two strong-willers just happen to be girls. Ahem.)
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