Are you a people pleaser? Do you find this spilling over into all your relationships, including the one with your children? You can have a greater positive impact on you and them when you move from being a people pleaser parent to serving (giving them what they need, not what feels easier for you).

Why do we become such people pleasers?

We're programmed to please. From earliest childhood, we were praised for being pleasing and compliant. We learned to please in order to receive approval (and conversely, to avoid rejection). We don't want to offend and go to the opposite extreme.

What does people-pleasing look like?

Many of us took this into adulthood, and it doesn't serve us well. We spend time with people we don't really enjoy (and have less time for those we love). We don't know how to say no (and end up frustrated and resentful). We don't take care of ourselves because we put others first (and we are depleted). We do more than we should for co-workers (and are taken advantage of). We do too much for our children (and they lose opportunities to become confident and self-sufficient). We use our time unwisely (and we are rushed and dissatisfied with life).

I'm not suggesting that you stop doing for others. What you can look at is your motivation. Are you a people pleaser parent and losing sight of what's in the best interest of those you love?

What does a people pleaser parent look like?

The biggest way 'pleasing' comes up in parenting is when you don't want to make waves, or deal with a tantrum. All you want is some peace and quiet and to be loved in return. Is that so much to ask? In the end, though, you do a disservice to all involved, including you.

How is 'serving' different?

This takes a little adjustment on how you understand 'being of service.' Just as love isn't about being 'nice,' serving isn't only about doing and giving as much as you are able. Truly being of service includes considering why you do what you do, and how it will benefit (or not) the person on the receiving end.

What does going from pleasing to serving look like in the family?

Pleasing: You're in a store and you buy a child the toy or candy to avoid a tantrum (and the embarrassment of an out-of-control child).

Serving: You tell your child what the expectations are before going to the store. If that isn't enough, you may have to leave before you are done shopping. Otherwise, the lesson learned is that you don't mean what you say.

Pleasing: Your child loses a device and you replace it right away. You can't bear to see her disappointed and disconnected, and don't want to face the tantrum if you don't replace it right away.

Serving: This is a tough one. Our kids really are connected to their world through their devices. This is an instance where you have some leverage. You know she really cares about this item, and probably considers it a lifeline to being accepted and connected. Here is where you can discuss and negotiate the conditions under which she gets the new one. She will learn responsibility, cooperation and appreciation.

Pleasing: You don't agree with your partner on discipline, so you give in and give up. It's easier than fighting about it.

Serving: More often than not, you don't need to make an instant decision. Find a quiet time to discuss this in private. Where can you compromise? How can you support each other?

You'll be teaching your child how people problem-solve, resolve differences, see the bigger picture, speak in respectful and loving ways, and set healthy limits and boundaries. What wonderful ways to be in service to your child!

Pleasing: A teacher calls about missing homework and you jump in with apologies and assurances that it will be done. You want to be seen as a concerned parent, and not an ineffective one. (Some of you have the future college transcript on your mind.)

Serving: When you care more than your child about schoolwork, something is out of balance. You can do your child a great service by letting him take the natural consequences for the missing work (the zero).

They might fight you every step of the way; that's what kids do. But your kids are depending on you to give them what they need, not what they want. Listen to the voice of your values and convictions, and go from being a people pleaser parent to serving your children well.

Originally posted on Fern Weis.

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