Wednesday, March 04, 2009

girls and self-esteem

Man, this stuff starts early.
Lizzy recently got a writing board from IKEA -- it's a nice little addition to the living room, and she finds fun things to do with it. Write messages for visitors, draw pictures and have us guess what they are, etc.
The most recent thing on the board is a line down the middle, and two categories: "Likes Lizzy" on the left side, and "Dosent like Lizzy" on the other side.
When I first saw the sign, the score was 1 to 1. Maddie and I have since voted, making the score 3 to 1. (Maddie told me how she wanted me to vote on her behalf.)
"Who said 'doesn't like Lizzy'?" Matt asked when he saw the board. "She did, of course," I said.
She wouldn't tell Matt why she voted that way. I tried later that night, at bedtime.
"I don't want to tell you," she said. "I won't tell anyone. Some things, I don't want anyone to know."
Also recently, she's been really insistent that we respect the privacy of her bedroom. Which is fine with me, though I do reserve the right to peek in there occasionally for such purposes as to see if she's still taking a (rare) nap, etc. But I try to respect her privacy, for the most part. She can really get mad if I barge in without announcing myself.
I mean, really. She's not even six and a half yet! Where does she GET this stuff??
I've been struggling lately with the balance between correcting my child and boosting her self-esteem. And trying (far too often, unsuccessfully) to model respect for her. But she's been doing a lot of shouting at us lately, and attempting to order us around, and lots and LOTS of interrupting.
What on earth? Is it a stage? Have we already gone horribly wrong as parents? Have we applied too much discipline? Not enough? Sometimes I think one, sometimes the other. Did we wait too long to have child No. 2?
This parenting gig is not for the faint of heart.


  1. What a passionate and interesting little girl you have. Obviously I have no advice. But be encouraged-- you and M are raising her with steadiness and love, the foundations for all good parenting as far as I can tell.

  2. Oh, Kate, I'm sorry to hear Lizzy is having a rough time. She seems very sensitive, which probably makes all the bumps and bruises of growing up seem even more dramatic (our little one shows every sign of being the same way). She has great allies in you and Matt in this crazy business of growing up.

  3. One of the best lines I ever heard coming from a kids cartoon was from a parent about to enter their child's room, "I'm both respecting your right to privacy by knocking and asserting my authority as a parent by coming in anyway." (Then the dad uses a battering ram to knock down the door.)

    All jokes aside, I'm right there with you. I really wish these guys came with better owners mannuals. I always feel like I'm screwing her up and she's going to end up on some couch telling her shrink how awful I am. I wish I had advice - but can only offer the deepest empathy.

  4. My heart goes out to you & Matt AND Lizzy. Apparently, I was quite a pill at her age (massive temper) and my parents still grew to like me later :)