Say the word bossy. I bet you can immediately think of someone who is bossy and it is not describing them in a positive way. If you are honest, the person you think of probably makes you annoyed or frustrated. At the very least, you probably see your interactions with them as challenging.
My first born girl is bold, opinionated, and confident. She wants to be in charge of every situation, and she has been blessed with the perfect balance of assertiveness and bravery and desire to lead. Ideas come quickly to her, and her imagination keeps those ideas flowing. I can tell that she often feels like her ideas are the best. NOT because she wants to bully or manipulate, but simply because she has a youthful innocence that she is right.
She isn’t coming up with some great plan to control everyone and everything. This isn’t her way of acting out in a malicious way. She believes she is helping people by coming up with the ideas, the rules, and getting everyone in line to follow along. In that moment, she is just letting her natural ability to lead shine.
These qualities are so often celebrated and admired in young boys. Boys that possess them are called leaders. Parents and friends look on with pride and admiration. People begin to dream that these boys will one day own companies or become the president.
So why are girls with these traits so often criticized? Girls are asked to quiet down, to stop, to change. In girls, these qualities are often just reduced and referred to as BOSSY.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with one of my daughter’s past teachers. The teacher began by telling me that my daughter loved to learn, was eager to participate, constantly wanted to be the helper, and would volunteer whenever a task was offered to students. The teacher went on to say that my daughter was a good friend, organized lots of games, and was very social. When the teacher got to the part of the conversation where we would discuss what my daughter should work on, the teacher said, “She can be bossy to friends.” Obviously, my first concern was if my daughter was being mean. But when the teacher said no, I was honestly unsure of what to say.
My daughter and I discuss this topic regularly. In these discussions, I remind her to allow others to make up some of the rules, to take turns, to let someone else be in charge. I remind her that if roles were reversed, she would want someone to allow her to speak and be able to take a turn, too.
I do not want to dim her bold personality or change who she is at her core, but I know that as she grows she will need to acknowledge what situations require her to rein in this part of her and which situations will allow her to let it shine. I will always encourage my daughter to cherish the positive qualities that she has that give her a natural desire to be independent. I want to break the stigma associated with being bossy and encourage her confidence, assertiveness, and ability to think for herself.