Powerful Speaking for Powerful Women

Tricia Karp

As a guide to help you discover and speak your truth – rattling my tambourine to help you stop saying yes when you mean no, asking for permission, justifying and  apologising for yourself – I thought it apt to have a look at how my daughter, who’s 6, is travelling in the speak-up stakes.

Boundaries

My girl has a boyfriend.  Three actually.  The latest was announced just yesterday.  Boyfriend 1 is a charming young man, and the one I know best.  He even kissed me on the lips – the lips! – before he went to bed on a night I was visiting his parents.

My girl was invited over for a sleepover.  Boyfriend 1 has a queen size bed, so the plan was that they’d sleep together. My girl put Boyfriend 1’s large stuffed crocodile down the centre of the bed, to separate them, so they wouldn’t kick or roll into each other in the night.

From me, my girl gets a big tick for this.  Excellent boundaries.

Honesty

She doesn’t like being kissed by Boyfriend 1.  He plants sloppy smackeroos right on her cheek, and it makes my girl cry.  Given that she is 6 and it takes presence, courage and mastery of language to respectfully inform him of her feelings, crying does the job quite well.  Boyfriend 1 is at times confused that she doesn’t enjoy his smackeroos.  I imagine, in time, he’ll get used to all sorts of confusing behaviour from women.

For showing her distaste for the smackeroos, for being so honest, I give my girl another big tick.

Saying No

My girl started at a new school this term.  It’s where she met Boyfriend 1, and the attraction was instant.  They’re like a pair of long lost soul mates.  Daily, Boyfriend 1 is sent home with a piece of paper marked with either red, yellow or green to denote his standard of behaviour.  He has a penchant for poking people and creating other disruptions for his classmates.

According to her teacher, my girl has been an excellent influence on Boyfriend 1.  Despite his hearty encouragement for her to join him in his wayward behaviour, she never does.  My girl says no!

From me, she gets another big tick for this.  And I also make a note to myself to keep an eye on this one.  Is she behaving well because that’s true for her?  Or is she more concerned about being a good girl and pleasing her teacher?

It’s a tricky one.

We demand our kids do what they’re told.  Respectable members of society don’t behave like animals, after all.  There are guidelines a stack of rules and regulations for holding it all together.  In classrooms, families, organisations… Maintaining your connection to your truth, let alone speaking it, is one hell of a mission.

Service

My girl’s new school has the parents raving about the ability of its staff to hone in on each child’s gifts, honour them, and encourage them to the nth degree.  I’m thrilled.  Within a day of starting at this school, my girl was transformed.  A different child.  I kid you not.  Happy, engaged and excited, it was as if her spirit reached all the way to Santa’s Magic Cave.

One of the gifts identified by my girl’s teacher is her helpfulness.  She asks my girl her for help all the time.  It makes her so very proud, and she comes home and tells me how much she helped today and what a great helper she is.  And then she promptly reminds me that she only does that at school and isn’t interested in being helpful at home.  In the interests of balance, of course.

I listened to a talk recently by a behavioural consultant who said that kids feel like valued members of a household, and society, when they help.  I can think of all the times I haven’t wanted my girl to help me because she makes such a mess, especially when cooking.  I’m trying to become  more tolerant.  It’s a very slow process for me.

I award a tick for my girl’s propensity to help, as well as a note to myself to keep an eye on this one too.

I hope that in trying to be so darn helpful my girl doesn’t get laryngitis and find herself unable to say no to taking on requests that aren’t her truth.  I hope that service to others doesn’t blind her to her own needs and desires.

Confrontation

There are times recently when my girl’s used these words – I don’t want to tell you –  to pre-empt a conversation with me.  It’s a classic manipulation strategy to soften the potential blow.  And I admit, it works.

I hear myself saying You can tell me anything.  Because I’d hate for her to think she can’t.  And then when she informs me that she’s lost her sports rugby top when she’s only had it for a few days, or dropped navy blue ink all over her bedroom carpet, the idea is that I’m kinder and softer in my response.  And I probably am.

For this, I can’t quite bring myself to offer a tick though.  There’s a lot to be said for not trying to set up a confronting conversation this way.  It doesn’t leave room for learning to take place.  It can inhibit real connection.  And worst of all, it buys into the notion that confrontation is awful, bad, evil – and must be avoided at all costs.

For the record, the word confrontation means to be in front of an issue with someone.  It’s all about being up front, honest, and owning it.  Done well, a confronting conversation deepens and strengthens relationships.  It can be so very beautiful.  Truly.

Summary

It’s my girl’s life, not mine.

My deepest desire for her is to know herself, her soul’s calling.  To live and speak her truth without fear or shame.  To express herself – her life – powerfully.

May it be so.

~~~

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8 Responses

  1. This made me cry Tricia as I imagine how young girls would grow up strong and confident in their communication, fully responsible for how they show up in life. Thank you for doing the work you do and sharing your daughter’s journey. There is hope for a different reality.

  2. Oh Sandi, thank you for your words – so much.

    There is hope for a different reality. My hope is that I can play my own small part for my daughter, and for those of us women who choose to find our way back to our truth. I’m certain I don’t always get it right – some days I wonder if I ever will! And I remind myself that awareness is the first step. Coming home from a swimming lesson today, my daughter said another “I don’t want to tell you this.” I told her it’s best to just say it, straight out. Just say it.

    I’ll keep at it! x

  3. My girl is now a freshman in college. She was, and is, much like this. Still helping, still happiest when she does. Still very, very clear with boundaries and her words. Still weaving her story. And I’m still remembering it is hers to tell.

    Thank you for this. I’m hopeful, too.

    1. Christa, this is the part where us parents usually say “Well done.” And yet, it’s such a gift to our kids, I reckon, to remember it’s their story to tell.

      Reading your words gave me a burst of joy. I can’t imagine my daughter at that age yet. And I know it will happen quickly. I love it that your girl is happiest when she helps, and still so clear with her boundaries and words. How wonderful!

      Thank you so much for stopping by to add to this conversation.

  4. I loved reading this Tricia thanks. in particular you touched on something I myself have been working on about confrontation. I agree….”It’s all about being up front, honest, and owning it”. I hope I convey this to my young man who is about to start high school 2013. I also agree that we are here to guide our children, & remember its their lives, their mistakes, their rewards, their story… and they must know they have a voice. Very hard work sometimes… I know I make mistakes but as you say awareness is the key. Love your work please keep writing xo

    1. Donna, so lovely to see you here.

      Confrontation – doing it well – is such a big piece in expressing ourselves powerfully, isn’t it.

      I’m so touched by the hearts of us mamas. We all try so very hard to do our best.

      Thank you for being here x

  5. I am the grandfather of Tricia’s girl, and can tell you she is a very bright, intelligent, artistic, clever, and headstrong young lady. She is teaching me to approach children differently, which is an interesting journey to watch her grow and develop, and learning, slowly, to share and participate with her younger cousin. We are lucky to have her and her parents now living in Adelaide, so we get to see them more and have her stay over with us quite often.

    1. Poppy is in the house!

      We are lucky to be here with you. Makes my heart very happy that Lila gets to spend so much time with her grandparents. It’s such a special relationship that I want to support and encourage in every way I can.

      Dad, what’s going on with that photo? That’s not how you looked last time I saw you! x

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