Tuesday, 29 January 2013

When Your Child Is Not Like You

It's challenging to be a mom to a personality that's different from yours.  You could say the past four years has been a decoding project of mine on Ladybug Girl.  What can I say, I'm a brand manager by day so it's second-nature to apply consumer insighting skills on my daughter.
Long, Life-lesson post.
I need a permanent space to turn my discoveries about my daughter into insights to remember when she's the dreaded teenager.
Ladybug Girl and I are alike in most ways but in very basic ones, we couldn't be more different.  She is a Dove, and I'm an Owl: which means she is a people-pleaser and I'm an unapologetic hermit.  She's highly emotional and I'm highly private.  She is not assertive and I'm not submissive.
She was a nervous baby, shying away from noise and people exclaiming over her
If I were to be totally honest, I want to 'toughen her up'.  I have a sister (also a Dove) who was bullied in grade school and I remember the painful self-consciousness that insecurities bring.  I want my daughter be confident in and stand up for herself.

The preschool version of my wisdom is not very mature:  Hit them back if they hit you!  Grab the toy you want and never. let. go!
Kids will be kids, so when the inevitable grabbing of playthings happens she always lets go.  
A Dove is the symbol for peace, and Ladybug Girl literally fears conflict.  She runs away during those storytelling moments of tension on Disney Junior.  Doc McStuffins has a cold?  Pluto goes missing?  So does my daughter.  When she senses a sudden rise in temper of mine or her dad's, she jerks her hands in panic towards me and pulls my face down to give me a sweet, soothing kiss.
Hands over ears at a pet show : her coping mechanism because loud music/noise = conflict.  I was sad about missing the shows.  Awesome Guy was sad about the under-utilized zoo ticket.
Doves tend to think with emotions, and Ladybug Girl is a huge tender-heart.  She cries during goodbyes with playmates.  She refuses Bible stories because most of them have sorrow and suffering.

I now see the pattern why her little face would crumple in tears when reading together at 2 years old:  an alligator mom scolding her son to say 'please' if he wants a cookie.  A frog who yelled 'out!' to the spider who fell in his lake.  Back then I was so baffled!
Nervous about new experiences: like the science museum, flower girl duty, meeting the school security guard, and even our family Christmas gift giving
Another nervous Ladybug Girl code last Halloween

I like to give her new experiences and then repeat them to build her self-confidence.  I also use books, stories and you tube to let her feel prepared.  I'm so proud of my little Dove when she overcomes her fears and says she had a great time after!   
We've gone back to the science museum over and over and she finally conquered Aedi.
In a birthday party, she watched from afar at first and then actually volunteered for a magic trick!

The effect of her self-confidence is amazing.  Others have exclaimed how she's so much more chatty, expressive and participative.  But I began to get complacent, and I easily forgot Ladybug Girl's nature last December.  See, we took her to Disney on Ice two years ago:
We had to step out a few times, but in the end she said she wanted to watch again next time.
But a full year later, no amount of pre-conditioning via You Tube could make her sit through the octopus and dragon villains from Disney Princesses and so at the show last December, we spent most of our time standing near the exit doors.
Until the finale, that is.  No villains, see!
I was so exasperated because I had paid for floor seats, that I lost my temper when she wouldn't follow me to the entrance.  The end-goal of having a new experience had overshadowed the self-confidence building process.  That was really not my best moment.

It was a sobering reminder for me that a child's real nature and motivations don't change even if her behavior does.  To keep following your child, even when you think you have her codes all figured out.

Do I want to change Ladybug Girl's personality?  Heck no.  If my little dove is like this to her playmates...  
Sharing with best-friend cousin comes naturally to my sweet little Dove.
... can you imagine how sweet she is to her mother?

Oh yes that is her sleeping on top of me.  "Oh mommy, I love you.  You are my heaven.  You are my best friend.  You're my heart."  Having a dependent Dove melts my independent Owl heart.
I truly believe Ladybug Girl and I are a perfect mom-daughter match.

But ask me again in ten years.


If you're curious about the whole Dove and Owl reference, there's also Eagle and Peacock...  inquire at http://mindprint.ph.  This isn't a paid post.

My Mommyology linked up to this post and wrote about decoding her own Dove daughter here.  Thanks for the lovely shout out, Jen!


  1. You are my heaven? You are my heart? Made me tear up. :')

  2. I love this post! She probably got her Dove personality from her Lolas! =)


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