I’m in a different stage of motherhood now.
I’m not sure what it’s called but it involves hearing the word ‘No‘ and my daughter getting into everything.
It makes me miss the simpler infant stage when my biggest worry was my daughter rolling off of the bed.
Nevertheless, I love the moments when my husband or I walk through the front door and she screams, ‘Mama!‘ or ‘Dada!‘ running up to us with her arms open wide.
It’s so precious.
Yet as my little girl grows up before my eyes, I’m reminded that soon I’m going to have to teach her about the phenomenon called stranger danger.
Definitely not a simple task for a parent but I figured hubby and I would rise to the occasion when it became necessary.
Or so I thought.
Yikes! Another Parenting Mistake
Miya, our daughter, is one of the happiest and friendliest kids you could ever meet.
I mean, this girl has been smiling since birth!
However, she is around that age where if she doesn’t know you, she will stay the hell away.
The good thing is, it’s very normal, especially between 8 months to 2 years old.
But what have I done?
During some of my little girl’s obvious displays of stranger danger, I tried to persuade her to show affection to a person she clearly didn’t want to give any to.
And I thought it was okay.
Until one day, my girlfriends and I were having a deep conversation about family cultures, and two of them spoke up.
An Interesting Take On Stranger Danger
One of my friends, a fellow mom like me, shared that she learned not to force her sons to show affection to others.
Her reasoning was simple –> she wanted them to understand boundaries and to trust their sense of safety.
You see, it wasn’t totally about the potential danger someone could have on them. And trust me, this is every parent’s worst nightmare.
Her focus was instilling a healthy sense of independence and respect.
After she shared her perspective, another friend chimed in, supporting her approach.
She wasn’t a mom but as a passionate supporter of women’s rights, she expressed that this mindful practice of self-love was key for little girls as well.
Yes, all of it mattered – boundaries, independence, safety, and respect.
It was at that moment that I spoke up.
Wow, I need to apologize to Miya.
“I’ve tried to force her to smile and hug people she doesn’t remember, even people she hasn’t met before.”
This wasn’t an epiphany that came from a place of shame.
I’d just realized that I hadn’t treated my daughter how I would want to be treated, and at the same time, I wasn’t honoring her God-given instincts.
Thankfully, my homegirls responded to my vulnerability with grace and kindness.
And I made the choice right then and there to practice this conscientious approach with all the kids in my life, starting with my own.
No, My Daughter Doesn’t Owe You Affection
What is best for the child is not always what is most convenient for the parent
In the moments that I unintentionally let my daughter down, I thought it was more convenient to save face and prove that my daughter was sociable.
I think I even thought that it would confirm that as parents, my husband and I had put in the effort to consistently interact with close and extended family.
But, moving forward, we stand firmly on the principle that our daughter doesn’t owe anyone affection.