I grew up as a major people pleaser. My family thought it was just my personality; they thought it was who I was and who I would always be. In reality, it was who I was conditioned to be.
Do you have one or more kids who strives very hard to please everyone? Do you believe they will always be that way because it’s too hard to change when they’re in an abusive situation?
In 2016, I realized that my daughter was people pleasing. I was concerned because here I was making this bold, courageous move to leave an abusive situation, yet my daughter was still chasing after love and approval from her father, her friends, and even (emotional) bullies at school.
I felt ill-equipped to help her through this. I felt like I had a muzzle on my mouth because I couldn’t speak clearly to her about the situation she was in. She was very young and I believed anything I said to her would get back to her dad.
So I fumbled my way through. I would see her chase after the approval of someone at school and I’d overreact, not wanting her to be anywhere near this situation.
I finally decided I’d had enough.
I removed that muzzle over my mouth and looked for situations in our day to day life that could be used to teach her another way. Disney movies provided a multitude of situations to talk through.
Every Disney movie has a villain and there are usually abusive things happening. Tangled is a perfect example of this. The mother is abusive in so many ways, right? And Rapunzel tries so hard to please this woman her whole life until she finally has enough.
I never called it abuse, but as we watched that movie (on repeat), I would talk to my daughter about what was happening, how the character felt, and how they got out of the situation.
By using moments like this that weren’t connected to the real life people she was trying to please, I was able to parent my daughter openly and help her see other ways of connecting without letting people walk all over her. She grew stronger and more confident.
When we moved to a new neighborhood, we came across a young girl who was MEAN. She played the victim, she manipulated and controlled the kids around her, she always got her way.
My daughter instantly recognized it and decided she didn’t want any part of it!
My daughter and I were discussing a friend of hers who she recognized as a people pleaser, and my kid pointed out that she used to be just like her in the past. I’m so proud of her, that she can see that in other people and recognize what she’s overcome!
I’m sharing this to show you that it IS possible to teach your children how to stop people pleasing and stand up for themselves, even though they are in an abusive situation with their other parent. If I can do it, you can, too.
If you need help getting started, schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me. We’ll talk about what tools are available to you that can help you be the mother you want to be, with no muzzle.
God made you for this!
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