Saturday, March 24, 2012

The parenting strategy that worked too well

(An aside: if you called me, emailed me, texted me, messaged me on Facebook or left a comment on this blog after my last post, thank you. Thank you so, so much. Your kind words and support mattered more than you probably thought as you typed.)

(I actually think you all made me get over it.)


When I was pregnant, I would make lists of how I wanted my babies to turn out.

Then I’d go find a parenting book that told me how to raise a child that way.

But I am an overachiever, so I read a lot of books.

And have basically barfed parenting strategies on my two children.

Poor Jack doesn’t know whether to be tough or sensitive. Poor Caroline can’t figure out if grades and winning sports teams are important, and if they’re not, why I’m such a lunatic about both, while also telling her they don’t matter. I have gotten so confused about all the different strategies that my children are destined to have split personalities, simply because that’s what I model more consistently than anything else.

But. One thing was always important to me, and that was raising confident children. I think self confidence, innate, learned or faked, is one of the skills most crucial to happiness at any age.

Of course I never know if any of my parenting sinks in with either child.

Until it’s the week before Caroline's birthday.

She sent an email to my sister: “Hi, Aunt Jenn. Can you please email me any pictures you have of me?”

To my mother-in-law: “Ama, got any pictures of me?”

To me: “What’s your password on Snapfish?”

Finally, I asked what she was doing.

“Well, it’s my birthday next week.”

“Yes, honey, I know. I birthed you.”

“Okay, so, well, I know how to do slideshows in PowerPoint.”


“And I thought it would be supercool if I made a slideshow of pictures that we could maybe hook up to the big TV (because the cord we need only costs $30 at Radio Shack) and it could, like, run all week in honor of my birthday.”

“Well, Caroline, that is a cute idea. But what would the pictures be of?”


Blink. Blink.

“Well, me as a baby, then me as a toddler, then me doing all sorts of cute things and wearing cute clothes and making cute faces, and maybe all the way up until now. So everyone can sort of watch me grow up, but really fast, in honor of my birthday.”

Incredulous, I looked at Whit.

He said, sotto voce, “Hmm, little narcissistic?”

She said, “I heard you. I know that means humble.”

So. Can someone please write a parenting book called, “This is what you do when you work so hard on a parenting strategy that it backfires” or “Undoing the raising of a self-confident baby” or even just “How to teach your fourth grader the difference between synonyms and antonyms”?

Ah, forget it. I’ll take it. Girl power and all that. She’s hitting double digits (I am therefore crying in my wine) and if she enters those (gulp) preteen years thinking she’s amazing, well then, I guess there’s nothing to do but agree with her. She is amazing.

Happy almost birthday, my adorable little narcissist.


  1. I love this!!! What a great idea and we should all celebrate ourselves a little more than we do, right?

    Early happy birthday wishes to a double digit girl and happy wine shopping to her Mom.

  2. Talking with friends last night about the hookers--I mean teenage girls--hanging out at the Giant at Old Georgetown and Democracy during the week, and my friend's theory is that they have such amazingly low self-esteem that this is the only way they can boost themselves up. I think I might agree with her. So rock on, my friend...

  3. Great strategy but is this really works in real life. I don't think so...