When the World Says Your Child Needs Changing

Thursday, March 2, 2017

*I am so pleased to welcome Rachel Macy Stafford to the blog today! She is the NYT bestselling author of Hands Free Mama and Hands Free Life. Her new book, Only Love Today, will be released on March 7th. See the bottom of this post to find out how to get the book plus 4 bonus gifts! 

Here's Rachel!
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When my daughter was three, someone told me during a toddler music class that I needed to "toughen her up" because she was too sensitive and "would have a rough life ahead.” When my daughter and I got home, I looked into my child’s big, brown eyes that held so much promise and declared, “I will never ever ‘toughen you up.’ Mark my words. Someday, that tender heart inside you will be your gift.” 

It wasn’t until I was cleaning out my daughter’s backpack six years later that I received confirmation for nurturing my child's tender heart rather than trying to change it. 
At the bottom of her book bag there was a speech she’d written and recited to her class before being voted class president in a mock election.
My daughter wrote:
"I would very much like to be your class president. I am hard working. I am very kind. I take care of the animals and the plants. I have self-control. I am very brave and honest. I am caring and a little curious. I am very smart and fun. I make a good leader. I care about other people. I am so exided to be one of the class presitents. Please vote for me."
I cried as I held that paper.
I cried for every little boy whose parents are told he is too rambunctious, too inquisitive, too loud.
I cried for every little girl whose parents are told her head is in the clouds, that she is a daydreamer, and too much of a free spirit.
I cried for every little boy whose parents are told he is too small, too weak, and too timid to ever play the game.
I cried for every little girl whose parents are told she is too clumsy, too uncoordinated, too slow to ever succeed.
I cried for the mother who was told her child needed to be toughened up and for ever year that mother waited for the moment she would know she had done the right thing by nurturing that tender heart.
The moment was now.
And there was cause for celebration. Not because I had been “right.” Oh no, there was something much more miraculous to celebrate.
In the act of protecting, nurturing, and encouraging that overly sensitive heart at age three, my child’s gift had blossomed.
And what was more important than the fact the world could see and appreciate her gift was the fact that she could see it herself.
I shudder to think if I’d tried to change her, mold her into something she was not.  What would I have destroyed in my beautiful child? I was certain she could have never written these words, her purpose, and her future in clear legible letters.
But what about the others—the ones who are being told they are “too this” or “too that?” I want to protect their unique and beautiful inner lights too. May the following plea inspire you to step back and allow your loved ones to do things in their own way … in their own time … with their own flair. May this plea confirm what you’re feeling deep in your heart: To let them be who they are. Perhaps in time, you will see something that the world thought needed changing doesn’t need changing at all. Perhaps you will see something courageously brave and beautiful that is worth protecting and nurturing. Perhaps you already do.  
Don’t Change, Extraordinary One

They say he’s too quiet.
They say she’s too inquisitive.
They say he’s too energetic.
They say she’s too sensitive.
They say these things thinking it will help,
But it doesn’t.
It only causes worry and the pressure to conform.
The truth is, changing would be a tragedy.
Because when they say “too quiet,”
I see introspection.
Don’t change, thoughtful one.
You’re gonna bring quiet wisdom to the chaos.
Because when they say “too inquisitive,”
I see problem solving.
Don’t change, little thinker.
You’re gonna to bring answers to the toughest questions.

Because when they say “too energetic,”
I see vitality.
Don’t change, lively one.
You’re gonna bring love and laughter to desperate times.

Because when they say “too sensitive,”
I see heart.
Don’t change, deep feeler.
You’re gonna bring compassion to hurting souls.

Because when they say “too anxious,”
I see caution.
Don’t change, little protector.
You’re gonna bring deliberation to tricky situations.

They might say change is needed.
I ask that they look a little deeper and observe a little longer.
From where I stand, these individuals are just as they should be–
On their path to bring the world exactly what it needs to thrive.

Don’t change, extraordinary one.
You’re gonna light this place up.



Editor’s note:
This article is a small sample of what you will find in Rachel Macy Stafford’s highly anticipated new book, Only Love Today: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love (release date 3/7). With a unique flip-open, read-anytime/anywhere format, this book is soulful encouragement for busy parents and individuals yearning to anchor themselves in love despite everyday distractions, pressures, and discord. “Only Love Today” began as a mantra to overcome her inner bully, but it is now the practice of Rachel Macy Stafford’s life. It can be a practice for all of us. Join Rachel and her supportive community at HandsFreeMama.com where you can also pre-order Only Love Today by March 7th and receive free bonus materials with your order. Follow Rachel on Facebook at The Hands Free Revolution!  Join the #onlylovetoday movement!


About the Author

Rachel Macy Stafford is the New York Times bestselling author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, and soon-to-be-released, Only Love Today. Rachel is a certified special education teacher who helps people overcome distraction and perfection to live better and love more. Rachel’s work has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Global News, TIME.com, and FoxNews.com. Rachel loves taking long walks, baking, and volunteering with homeless cats and nursing home residents. Rachel lives in the South with her husband and two daughters who inspire her daily.

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