There's a quote I've seen going around the internet from Sheryl Sandberg about little girls: "I want every little girl who is told she is bossy to instead be told she has leadership skills."
No. Please, please don't do this.
First of all, it's normal for little kids (both boys and girls) to go through a phase of telling other kids what to do. We shouldn't be labeling them "bossy" no matter who they are, because this is a normal phase that some kids go through. Probably as a reaction to the fact that they still are told what to do all day long by adults, so they think this is the way they should interact with others. The point is, though, that this isn't behavior that will help them in life, so we work with them to stop telling others what to do and expecting other to want to go along. As we work to change the behavior we also shouldn't stress out about it because it is a normal phase.
But it's not an adaptive social skill. And it's definitely NOT leadership.
A lot of the world used to think that leadership is about who shouts the loudest, or makes people cry, or tells the most people what to do in a firm voice. But that's not real leadership, and it's hurt more people and organizations than we can count. Do we want to live or work inside Glengarry Glen Ross or Gordon Ramsey's kitchen? Do we want to feel like the only way to get great things done is by either yelling at people or being yelled at?
Over the last few decades there's been tons and tons of research into effective leadership. And what's been found is that leadership consists of:
- acting in a way that gives others faith in your abilities to make good decisions for the organization
- treating others with respect and creating situations in which they can succeed and grow
- asking tough questions and acting responsibly on the answers to those questions
- bringing out the best in others so that they want to contribute to the organization
So if we want to teach our daughters (and sons) leadership skills–and I think we do–we should be teaching them how to work with others in a respectful way that makes the others want to be part of something exciting and productive. Whether it's building a sand castle at the playground or dividing up Matchbox cars at a playdate or doing a group project in middle school, kids can learn to be real leaders that other people are excited to follow.
But don't tell your kids they're doing something great when they're not. They're too smart and competent to be lied to. And, unlike Tom Cruise in "A Few Good Men," they CAN handle the truth, especially when we model the better way for them.
Sally emailed me that she's tandem nursing her two-week old and her two-year old, and it's kind of sucking out her chi:
"I'm exhausted and overwhelmed. Do you know anything about tandem
nursing? Any thoughts on how to wean a two year old in such a way that
he doesn't feel out of the loop?"
I do not, as my older one was almost three when he weaned himself while I was pregnant with his brother, so I lucked out. I think it would have been tougher with a two-year-old, because they're not as ready to be Big Kids as 3-year-olds are. So there's going to have to be an incentive that a 2-year-old can connect to, or else something huge to distract him.
Someone out there has to have done this and can give Sally some advice. Thoughts?
I made this game up in 2011. Feel free to add to it in the comments.
Drink once every time:
- Someone mentions granite countertops, crown molding, or hardwood flooors.
- Anyone uses the phrase "great for entertaining."
- The buyers complain about a paint color, light fixtures, or cabinets.
- The buyers complain about landscaping or lack of fencing or a deck.
- There was nothing wrong with their current home.
Drink twice every time:
- The buyers scorn anything under 3,000 square feet.
- The realtor shows them something above their price range.
- In the interview shot, the realtor says the buyers are unrealistic.
- One of the buyers disregards the other's concerns about commute or some other quality-of-life issue.
- The husband is obsessed with having a "man cave."
Do a shot or drink three times when:
- Someone makes the joke that the wife gets the bedroom closet and the husband gets the coat closet.
- The buyers end up buying the house out of their price range.
- The buyers make some glaring cultural faux pas (for House Hunters International)
- The buyers pay more for a vacation house that you spent on the house you live in.
- They buy a house based on something they want for a pet or inanimate object (like a piano).
Lately I've been in some kind of phase. And part of that phase is that I've been going deep with my children.
You know how there are those days, weeks, months, when you're holding things together, getting things done, checking homework and making meals and giving hugs and making sure everyone's got what they need? Now is not that time for me. Everything we do feels deliberate. Chosen. It feels like the conversations are happening in slo-mo. I am reaching in to feel what they feel and know who they are in this minute and what they need from me now, right now.
I don't know where the time is coming from, to have this slowness and depth, because we're still going on as usual with school and homework (for all three of us) and everything else. I didn't do this deliberately, either. I just realized one day that I'd been spending a huge amount of time staring into my kids' eyes and holding their hearts in mine.
I wonder if this is happening now so we can all store this up, before the older one rushes headlong into middle school and leaves us–me–behind. Or maybe it's just happening because it was time. My still-little people and I want each other.
HEADS UP. Time change coming for North America this Sunday morning, March 10. We are going FROM Standard Time TO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME (which is my boo). We are springing forward so the current 7 pm will be the new 8 pm. Here's the plan if you want to be proactive:
Starting Monday OR Tuesday night, put your kids to bed 10 minutes earlier each night. So if you start Monday, if they normally go to bed at 8:00, put them to bed at 7:50. Then the next night at 7:40, then 7:30, etc.
If you start Monday, on Saturday night you'll put them to bed at 7:00, and then the next day that 7:00 will have become 8:00 and you'll be back on schedule. If you start Tuesday, on Saturday night you'll put them to bed at 7:10 and then on Sunday put them to bed at 8:00.
The mornings will still be screwed up. See if you can work in a way to get a nap for yourself on Sunday afternoon and Monday afternoon or evening. By the Thursday after the time change we should all be fine.
In other news: I became a mother 11 years ago yesterday. It has been a hell of a ride. If I could tell myself anything on my first day of motherhood it would be this: "Hang on to your friends and accept the new friends who come, gratefully, because motherhood can gaslight you and you need help to come through it whole."
What would you tell yourself on your first day as a mother if you could?