When is being nice, not nice?
The other day I asked a group of students “What are your greatest strengths?” I did not expect profound answers; I know that they are still figuring things out. What struck me was the difference in answers between boys and girls.
The boys answered with words describing sports, abilities, and inner strengths. The girls answered “nice” and “polite”. When I first saw this, my heart sank. It is not that I don’t value being nice and polite, I think they are very important traits. I totally think we need more nice in the world. But many times girls and women are nice/polite to gain acceptance and they give themselves away. They are not incorporating into their self-awareness that they need to be nice and polite to themselves. If they are putting others feelings first and putting themselves and their own needs second, that is not a good thing.
Where do they get this? Why the difference? Remember the old saying “Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of”. Boys are made of adventure, fun, play, and distraction. “Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of.” Girls are nice, polte, sweet, and pretty. Hmmm? Truly, I should not have been surprised…it was typical of traditional gender roles.
Many families and cultures still hold these gender stereotypes as the norm. They do not value the girls for what they can accomplish, they value girls for how they make themselves and others feel. This is especially true in male-dominated cultures/societies. This is sad to me that in 2016, some girls are still not being raised to identify and honor their natural, inner strengths. Ask my daughter what her strengths are and she may never shut up…but that’s a whole ‘nother issue. 🙂
It is important to let all of our children know that they have strengths and weaknesses. It’s normal and it’s what makes each of us unique. They do not have to be perfect. No one is perfect. Teach them to honor and use their strengths. It’s okay to have weaknesses, they can work on them, but they don’t need to be identified by them. In order to teach them not to compare themselves to others, we must model that behavior. We must honor and love ourselves if we want them to love and honor themselves. We should also encourage them to find their passions, their strengths, their hearts.
Also, we need to make sure that we are not looking for our self worth from others. We will be sorely disappointed. We must find our worth in ourselves. We will never find happiness in someone else, that comes from within and manifests in our actions, thoughts, and words.
On top of this, we must all learn how to set up healthy boundaries with friends, family, and co-workers. It is important to balance our needs with the needs of others. Doing for others, without regard for our own health and life, can lead to negative consequences like depression and low self-esteem. It allows others to take advantage of us and our good nature. Some people will take advantage of others on purpose, while other people may not realize they are doing it. Boundaries allow us to establish clear definitions of behaviors that we find acceptable, actions we are comfortable with, and that our time and energy are of equal importance.
Want to read more about this? Before I started writing my blog, this article presented itself to me.”Being Too Nice Can Contribute to Depression”
So at the end of the day, I was hoping the students would look at themselves to see what they are good at. I wish I could go back and tell the girls that I saw creativity, artistry, storytellers, strong-wills, outgoing personalities, great fashion sense, inner strength, risk-taking, compassion, and good communication skills.
I hope they see these things too.