“I just don’t like getting people in trouble.”
Our daughter was crying in our room one evening last week. We asked her what was going on and she was having some conflict with her siblings. What it came down to is that someone was being mean or unfair to her and she didn’t want to do anything about it because she didn’t want to make them unhappy. In my book, this is called “people-pleasing.” I know, because I do it too.
It Starts Out Ok…
People-pleasing is actually a very useful trait, because it helps you to, well, please people. I believe it is a gift that God places in a person. A people-pleaser is in tune with the needs of others and has a strong desire to meet those needs. It comes in handy in marriage, and in providing customer service. But like all good gifts, this gift can be twisted out of shape when it is taken too far or if it is tangled up with insecurity or pride. People-pleasing can become a deadly trap that immobilizes you with fear. You plan out every move you make, in fear that it will cause a problem for someone else. (Ironically, this often ends up annoying the very people you are trying to please. But that’s another post.) I have been there and done that, and I understand the inner workings of a people-pleasing mind. So, as my daughter cried because she didn’t want to have conflict with her siblings, I was able to explain a couple points to her.
Real, Actual Help
I explained that even though it felt like she was being mean to them when she got them in trouble or made them stop, actually she was helping them. Every kid needs to learn how to make wise decisions and do what is right. If we just let them get away with whatever they wanted, then they would never learn. And it is always better to learn when you are younger, with small mistakes, than it is to learn when you are older, with big mistakes. So really, the kindest thing she could do in this case is to ‘get them in trouble,’ because that will help them to learn and grow.
Pleasing God Not Pleasing People
I then went on to explain that she knows that God loves her, and that is all that matters. It does not matter if her siblings are mad at her, or her friends, or anyone…she can remember that she is a child of the King! Her identity is set, no matter what everyone else thinks. So she doesn’t have to worry about making them happy. This is the ultimate release for a people-pleaser, because it is impossible to please everyone all the time.
By tapping into her God-given desire to be kind and caring, we were able to help her understand a better way to actually accomplish that goal. We will continue to remind her of her intrinsic worth in God’s eyes, to keep her security placed in Him. This is how purposeful parenting works – making the most of every opportunity to help them grow and understand the truth.
Are you raising a people-pleaser? Are you one? What tips do you have to liberate this trait and turn it into good?