I was sitting outside with my children recently, reading a book while they played. After a while, my eldest came over to me to have a chat.
She looked at me with a confused expression and proceeded to ask “Mum, why would you want to be disliked?” The book I was reading was The Courage to Be Disliked (Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga) and it appeared she had seen the title.
I don’t get a lot of opportunity to read while the sun is up whilst my kids are awake so it is not often they see me indulging in what is one of my favourite past times. They know I love reading as there is often a book on my bed-side table, sitting on the couch and in various other places in our home.
She continued “Mummy, I know at least one person who doesn’t dislike you.” I thanked her for her kindness and explained what the book was about.
It is one of the greatest challenges of being a parent, having the capacity to explain complex and high-level concepts to your children in a way they understand it but also in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them or compromise their innocence.
I believe as parents we really need to consider how we talk with our children as it is often easier to simply disregard their interest or curiosity. I view my children as small human beings who should be treated as such, not merely as children. They have the capacity to learn, think and comprehend in the same way we do as adults, sometimes even better due to their relatively simple view of the world. Engaging in quality conversation with them is one of the best ways to teach them how to think for themselves and think critically.
I explained to my daughter that the book was about how important it is to be just you and as that unique human being, we may come across others that don’t like us. To recognise this is part of the price we pay to be ourselves and that is ok. I continued to explain that we each are unique in our own right and there is nobody else out there that is just like us.
By this point my youngest had joined the conversation, her view on life simpler again to that of her older sister. Her initial question on joining the conversation was “Mummy, why can’t I be like anyone else?” My answer was the same as I gave her sister, that you are you and there is no one else like you and that is ok, in fact, that is truly amazing.