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How do you teach your daughters to be nice but not nice?

(164 Posts)
Incarnationsofunderstanding Thu 19-Apr-18 22:48:23

Boys too I guess to be fair.

Had a terrible experience recently (not detailing, been there deleted that), but as I think and think on it part of the cause is im nice. I'm empathic and tend to put other peoples needs above my own instincts.

Also I tend to the polite and have an inability to set firm boundaries.

I've found myself starting to say to the girls in the past week things like "it's your choice" "you can say no" but I'm handling it all wrong as a reaction.

So wise ladies of MN feminism, how do I ensure my daughters have all the traits of empathy, kindness etc. But be able to prioritise their ability to say no, to set boundaries, to be hard?

Reading material welcome for the future when I am able.

CelticSelkie Thu 19-Apr-18 22:53:18

It's really hard I think.

I want them to be polite but not at the expense of their own wishes. And this stuff is hard as an adult!

I must teach my daughter to have a phrase ready, a more teen-compatible version of ''that's not going to work for me''.

WrongOnTheInternet Thu 19-Apr-18 22:53:41

Rule 1) Trust your instincts
2) It ain't worth it. Look at the stats. Men are violent.
3) Anyone who's being aggressively pushy, for whatever reason, you need to get away from them now
4) 'Mirror' people - if they're not being nice you don't have to.
5) Go back to rule 1 and repeat

Bananamanfan Thu 19-Apr-18 22:55:41

I have exactly the same concerns, op. I have a kind and caring dd (7) and I am like you and often mistaken for a doormat. People are often shocked that I am not such a pushover, but it's a shame it ever reaches that stage. Teenage years were not good for me; I was easily manipulated and eager to be liked. I do not want that for dd

callies Thu 19-Apr-18 22:55:53

I don’t like trust your instincts.

Instincts are too often flawed.

Gileswithachainsaw Thu 19-Apr-18 22:56:49

God I have no idea either tbh. I have two Dds and honestly I'm petrified.

She's already experienced some low level stuff.

I worry if one day she snaps and she ends up in trouble as we all know that what usually happens.

And I worry she will take being nice and kind too far ...

I don't know what to say or do if I'm brutally honest.

winterisstillcoming Thu 19-Apr-18 22:59:48

Send them to my old grammar school.

Beamur Thu 19-Apr-18 23:03:40

I'm very honest with my DD and I think she's pretty good at this.
One thing I've always respected and encouraged to some extent, was not to make her be friendly or affectionate when she didn't want to be.
Allowing children to say 'no' to adults is a powerful message - but needs to be balanced against not raising horrible kids! I always ask and respect her boundaries and tell her this is fine - her thoughts/body/opinions are hers and hers alone. I'm not a people pleaser and neither is she.
Her Dad is on the same page too which helps.

fascinated Thu 19-Apr-18 23:04:35

Get them to Read

“The gift of fear”



Both are American books but messages are sound. Latter is Christian, but if you object to that a google around will provide alternatives with same message. Or the “Shark Cage” concept.

Tell them the best self defence is not to be there at all. Ex marine told me this. He could handle himself but even he didn’t put himself in dangerous situations.

Being “aloof” is ok.

JKirkdale Thu 19-Apr-18 23:10:59

I am probably going to be shot...but anyway here goes...feminism has changed so much over the recent years.. the meaning of feminism has been broadened so much it no longer has a fixed agenda. I would say its teaching your daughter your core values which will stick with her. Not feminism and how to tell boys no... as many women know the issue in allot of schools and work places growing up is acctually women on women not the typically thought to be men on women... im not saying that it doesnt happen because it does. But your values and morrals sound great...its just embedding those "values"...not bracketing them as they need to be a feminist thing to do so...and if everyone followed suit this whole equality thing would heal allot quicker.. so my point is ...take labeles out of the equation completely and teach as equal and your values.

Saltcrust Thu 19-Apr-18 23:11:28

Great thread and a really great question op - I struggle with this constantly!

Fwiw I tell my DD:
- to think for herself and not be a sheep
- to take more notice of actions rather than words
- that the majority of people are good and trying their best, but a few are not
- hope for the best but prepare for the worst (ie self defence class)
- to be as honest as possible with herself and others
- to be kind (where possible)
- to try and aim for balance in most situations.

She's 14 yrs and a bit too eager to "fit in and run with the crowd ATM" although, happily, it is currently a good crowd.

titchy Thu 19-Apr-18 23:13:25

Rule 1 - Say what you want to say politely - once only. If the message isn't heard then say it loudly with attitude and peppered with swear words.

Rule 2 - You are more important than anyone else and your needs feelings and opinions are more important.

Rule 3 - Do what you regard as the right thing. The moral high ground is s great place to be with a great vantage point grin

ILikTheBred Thu 19-Apr-18 23:14:47

Not sure what ages your daughters are OP but If they’re between 7 and 12 there is a good book called The Mouse, The Monster and Me which I found useful in discussing these issues with my children.

titchy Thu 19-Apr-18 23:15:07

Not sure I agree it's often women against women jkirkdale. I think most women can intuitively deal with the spiteful female bullies we come across. Dealing with male bullying is far more difficult.

winterisstillcoming Thu 19-Apr-18 23:16:35

No really, I went this awful school where the girls were your typical mean girls and I was the scruffy tomboy who dealt with people by punching them, scratching their eyes out or telling them to eff of. I was charming but people left well alone!

Peer pressure is tough, and a little passive aggressiveness can be her friend. Things like you don't have to say yes to something straight away, you can say I'll see, or I'll wait and see what everyone's else does etc, basically saying no but in a roundabout way, so she's not offending anyone, or saying something people can hold against her.

Also if people are treating her like a doormat, learning to find ways to avoid or minimise interaction if possible. A pair of headphones so she doesn't have to speak to certain people on a bus for example.

Also making them understand that you can't please everyone all the time, and ask yourself the question; would that person do the same for me if the situation was reversed?

JKirkdale Thu 19-Apr-18 23:18:09

Titchy as you can see from winter it does happen...probably allot more than what you experienced. Im sorry tou went through that really is appauling how some people behave.

Saltcrust Thu 19-Apr-18 23:18:29

Gosh, each to their own but I profoundly with your point no. 2 Titchy. I would never teach my child that she is more or less important than anyone else.

fascinated Thu 19-Apr-18 23:21:26

go and live on the continent for a while. You realise that we Brits are waaaaauyyyy toooo polite - to a fault
Being a bit more direct is nothing to be ashamed of
Sometimes it is needed

Incarnationsofunderstanding Thu 19-Apr-18 23:25:06

This is really helpful so far thank you. My DDs are still little (8 and under) but I want to start instilling now.

I found myself teaching them to be kind, teaching them to behave and be good.

Well being good and polite royally fucked me over last week, and while I don't want them hard I do want them safe.

Just freaked my ex right out by texting himBeamurs advice. He's good at co-parenting though so on-board.

Thank you for the reading, I may start with all those myself.

SecretsRSecrets Thu 19-Apr-18 23:27:41

I'm prob the wrong person to be giving advice as I basically am you OP.
I've spent my entire life as a people pleaser and always putting everyone else first.

However, I'm learning! There are some amazing posters on here that really make you realize that women need to start by valuing themselves. And that means that if you are uncomfortable in a situation allow yourself to go with your feelings rather than ignoring those feelings in order to 'be nice'.

We've been lucky as we did raise our DD to be kind and decent people, but they also wound up being very strong independent women who do not take any crap. They astonish me on a daily basis.

We did (and still do) also always discuss topics at great length and had them apply critical thinking, analyze all perspectives, always consider the source of their info and research research research, so that may also have helped.

I don't know if any of that helps at all, but I didn't want to read and run, especially as you're megrin

fascinated Thu 19-Apr-18 23:33:06

there is a pinned post at the top of the relationships board on Mumsnet, isn’t there? For when they’re older

It’s not about equal rights now. We need equal respect. That’s more subtle.

Teach them cynicism. About advertising, manipulation in the media, fake news.

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” is great - not feminism but just about human decision making and common pitfalls

SecretsRSecrets Thu 19-Apr-18 23:39:29

Oh and two techniques that worked well for my DC were...

If someone asks you a crappy question (gaslighting, straight up mean etc) remember that you are not obligated to answer, instead ask them 'Why do you ask?' or 'What exactly do you mean by that?'

If someone says something mean say very calmly to them 'That was unkind.'

And always always try to keep calm (and cold if the situation needs it), but never upset or angry. Bullies want a reaction, if you give them a neutral non-emotional response, they will head off to find a weaker target.

Incarnationsofunderstanding Thu 19-Apr-18 23:56:37

Good god Secrets don't be me. Being me is crap.

Let's go be them^

Waddlelikeapenguin Fri 20-Apr-18 00:04:59

Read the gift of fear & google the shark cage relationships and use that info to inform your discussions.
Encourage/believe their instincts about people
Let them assess risk for themselves when possible (i mean like climbing trees not trying drugs!)
Teach them to question & encourage them to think (why is does the advert show people smiling etc)
Prioritise bodily autonomy - they dont have to kiss granny if they dont want to (& if they kissed her last week it doesnt mean they have to this week), in tickling etc if they say stop you stop
Tell them it's ok to be rude, if someone makes you feel uh-oh you can shout, scream, run & I will back you up.

That's what I'm doing with mine anyway! Hope you're ok flowers

fascinated Fri 20-Apr-18 00:09:13

You don’t sound crap! Seriously. Try to avoid putting yourself down. Even in jest. You are not crap. You’re doing your best to help DDs navigate a world which is at times pretty shitty. You are not crap. Repeat ad infinitim. Please.

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