Yesterday after work I made my weekly trip to the grocery store. I grabbed a cart and my head was down while I searched for my grocery list. I heard a child crying and a mother telling her to “act nice.” I wasn’t paying attention; it was simply ambient noise. I heard the mom say, “You see, that lady’s staring at you because you’re acting so terrible.” I looked up and the mom was holding her daughter with outstretched arms and shoving her in my face! Caught off guard, I said, “No, actually I wasn’t staring at her. Kindly leave me out of it.”
This exchange annoyed me for several reasons.
- The mom was being openly dishonest to her daughter.
- The mom was attempting to use me to manipulate the child into behaving in a certain manner. I set boundaries when people attempt to use me.
- She shamed her child in front of a third party (me!).
- Worst of all in my opinion, the mom is teaching her toddler to be a people-pleaser. Even if I had been staring, who cares?
Google “People-Pleaser” and you’ll see countless articles designed to help a person stop the behavior. That must mean it’s a damaging trait (duh). Had I not been caught off guard, I might have told the mom that how her daughter behaves is between the two of them and is none of my business. I could have locked eyes with the little girl and given her a huge smile and a high-five. While I missed the moment, hopefully what I managed to choke out provided the mom with a hint that she doesn’t have to please everyone and neither does her daughter.
After all, Heaven knows the world will be a be a better place when we women gain the confidence we so richly deserve.