I am a reformed people pleaser. Sometimes. Wouldn't it be nice to have a support group for people pleasers? Hi, my name is Wendy and I am a people pleaser. Then everyone could reply, hello, Wendy. And I would be accepted...but now I am rethinking that idea. Because by definition, those people would be pleased that I am there, so by going to these meetings, I would then be pleasing people. Ahhhh!!!
Of course, pleasing people is not the problem. The problem is within me. The problem is my overwhelming desire to please people. The problem is that when I am in people pleasing mode, I will put the approval of others over almost anything else.
I got good grades in school. Of course I did. If not, then I would have let someone down. For years, my desire to please people has influenced every aspect of my life. It has influenced my relationships. It has influenced my decisions. A few years ago, I realized it was also infringing upon my parenting. And I discovered something very unsettling. I didn't like it.
It took a series of tragic circumstances in my life to make me take a hard look at the way I was living my life...and the way my choices were influencing my children. First, I pretty much put everyone ahead of my family. Not okay. Second, I was putting the opinions of others above my children.
Today I did a Bible study that mentioned that as moms, one thing we need to do is surround ourselves with people who see our children as God sees them. What a nugget of parenting gold. That summed up, for me, the changes I have made over the past few years. I was so worried about having children that were not well received by others, "those" children that people did not want to be around. Instead of people who saw the good in my children, I chose to listen to people who were more than willing to point out their flaws...as if I did not already know what those were. When someone would compliment my children, I almost took it as a grain of salt, rather than something to treasure.
It gets worse. I was so concerned about other people and their opinions of my family and me, that I would transfer my people pleasing obsession onto my children. I was constantly telling them to be careful of this or that so no one would think anything bad. Answer some questions in the class but not too many because you don't want anyone to think you're trying to take charge. If you do too good of a job at that activity, you might hurt someone's feelings, so be careful. Some people might not understand your intentions if you take charge, so maybe you should back off. Don't, don't don't.
Obviously, I don't want my children to hurt others. That is not the same as pleasing others. As for my children, and myself, we need to concern ourselves with pleasing God. That is all. It is okay for my kids to shine. It is okay for me to enjoy it when they do.
I actually went to my oldest child the other day and apologized for the way I acted in the past. I hope he had already noticed the changes I had made, but I wanted him to know. I wanted him to know that I knew what I had done and that I did not want to do it anymore. I have said it before, and I will say it again, My kids aren't perfect. But they are perfect for me. God put us together. I trust that He knew what he was doing. And I will continue to endeavor to surround myself with people who see my children as God sees them.