Thursday, August 12, 2010


1 a: settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions b: something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
2: a concession to something derogatory or prejudicial

I sometimes thing our greatest strengths are also our strongest weaknesses.  One of the things I love most about my daughter B is her unwillingness to compromise on the important things in life:  how she spends her time, where her energy goes and, most importantly, who she is. I truly admire all of these traits in her.  Since she was very young, I've sensed such a strength inside her.  It's like she's known from the start exactly who she was made to be and I've prayed all along that I will be able to train her, guide her and parent her without breaking her will.  Because her will is a beauty to behold and I have no doubt it will serve her tremendously well later in life.

But this same will of hers can be selfish, stubborn and unyielding.  B had a friend come over to spend the night earlier this week and it was apparent to me how difficult it can be to befriend this child of mine.  She knows exactly what she wants and what she wants to do and if it doesn't coincide with what her guest wants - well, that's just too bad.  Ahhh!  B is not unkind (though her sisters might tell you otherwise), but she is sometimes (often?) oblivious to the needs and desires of others.  I saw the conflict between she and her friend and I tried to help.  I suggested she do what her friend wanted right then and could do what she wanted after her friend left.  B acquiesced fairly graciously and enjoyed the remainder of her friend's time with us.  But I know with certainty this will not be the last time I have to help B see things from someone else's perspective.  I was left wondering how to teach this child to compromise. 

It's not that I don't know how to compromise - I am the master of compromise.  I've spent so much of my life wanting to be liked, desiring to be loved, craving acceptance that I've been willing to compromise over and over - and not just the mutual concession type of compromise.  No, I've been willing to concede to derogatory versions of myself in order to get along and get by.  I'm trying to get over that and the last thing I want to do is teach B that compromise means she needs to be less than her full self.

So how does a parent walk the line between encouraging a child to think of others and concede some points in the small things in order to never compromise on the big things?

As J and I talked through this a bit last night, he commented, "This is when it would be really helpful to have a friend who's been there."  I don't have a dear friend with a similarly strong (yet strongly selfish child) whom I can call and ask about this.  So if you're reading this and you've addressed it with your own child - or your parents addressed it particularly well with you - please share.  I'd love advice on how to protect the core of who B is from ever having to be compromised.  And I desire to help her extend that same grace to others.  Because she really is an amazing human being.

1 comment:

Allison in Texas said...

Well, I can't say I've been there, but I am there now. My older son, Casey, is almost 10 and just like you described your daughter. He is not an unkind friend, he just wants to do what he wants to do. He's a bit like me, really. To make matters worse, his little brother is close in age and very charismatic. He is a terrific friend, and will monopolize Casey's friends during playdates. I'll often see Joey and friend outside while Casey is by himself, inside, doing something solitary. I've tried exactly what you said, to emphasize giving in on some things, but it's hard to know what to say. I don't want him to turn into a doormat. I've said, "you can be right all the time, or you can have/be a friend" but I don't know how helpful that is. I can tell you that I am a stubborn and willful person, but I have always maintained a friend or two. Only time will tell, I guess.