Why I Let my Three-Year-Old Sway my Opinions

“One more cartoon and then I’ll go to sleep,” pleads my daughter.
My daughter is only three and she’s already trying to persuade me to do her bidding. She gestures like an adult, palms out and facing upwards, head cocked to one side, eyes looking pensively concerned with the utter importance of that extra cookie.
I used to take a hard stance against this type of thing. I would say “no” regardless of how eloquently (read: cutely) she explained herself or how important it seemed to her.
Mother being right and being obeyed was more important, I thought.
But as time passed and her vocabulary and persistence grew, I started letting her “convince” me that she could play a little longer or read one more story before bed. I don’t quite know exactly when I started letting her talk me into things, but I do know why.
We live in a world that silences. We’re told that you have to be of a particular status to have your words taken seriously. You have to look a certain way and speak only within certain parameters dictated by societal norms – no matter how warped those norms may be.
I certainly can’t change the world, but I can change how my daughter interacts with it.
I want her to know that her words matter, regardless of her gender, her beliefs, her social status, or her appearance. I want her to have the confidence to ask for something when she needs it, to understand what she wants is important, to know that the people who love her will listen and try to work with her instead of shutting her down.
Sure, right now that might mean letting her make her case for an extra cookie, or a few more minutes of playing in the park. But tomorrow it could mean something bigger and more significant.
It could mean seeing her convince her community to take on a project she believes is important. It could mean watching her change the hearts and minds of others with her words. It could mean she’ll make sure she’s heard in a world that silences.
So as she grows and finds new words and methods to persuade me into giving her what she thinks is important, I listen. Sometimes I say no because what she’s asking for is harmful or not possible. But sometimes I say yes because I need her to know that she will always be heard.
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