I am a recovering people-pleaser. For years I lived as a good girl trying really hard to do the right things, say the right things, and be the right person so that others would see me and approve of me.
I was defined by the vision of others.
Not a good thing.
And so… I am completely committed to teaching my daughters how to seek the approval of God instead of people so they can avoid the trappings of people-pleasing.
My children have had teachers and coaches who were not capable of “seeing” them. They only saw their behavior or their performance. They were obviously not pleased. Those have been the times that my girls have felt invisible and driven to do most anything to be seen and approved of.
One year in particular was really tough.
My daughter had a perfectionist teacher and felt her disapproval heavily- especially compared to the attention she lavished on other kids. After several weeks of taking apples for her teacher, drawing her special pictures, and writing notes my daughter finally told me what was going on. It was wearing her out. She looked at me with desperation and asked, “Why doesn’t she like me? What’s wrong with me?”
It broke my heart to hear the familiar doubts of a people-pleaser coming out of my child’s mouth. And so I told her this little story:
There once was a farmer who grew the best peaches in the land.He loved peaches and loved his work growing peaches for others to enjoy. Every summer before he harvested his crop, he would pick the juiciest, most fragrant peaches when they were perfectly ripe and take them home to his wife. The farmer would take several minutes to survey the batch and pick the very best peach for his wife. And every year she would crinkle her nose and say, “No thanks.” Her reaction always hurt the farmer deeply but he would vow to do better the next year. Finally one year the farmer asked his wife why she rejected his peaches and she said, “You can be the best peach in the box, but some people just don’t like peaches.”
I looked my daughter in the eyes and repeated the last line, “Sweetheart, you can be the best peach in the box, but some people just don’t like peaches.” She nodded in understanding. And then I reminded her of one of God’s names, El Roi, which means The God Who Sees You.
I told her that while some people may not be able to see or value us, God does. His loving eyes are always upon us.
Rather, we have been examined and approved by God to be trusted with the good news,
and that’s exactly how we speak.
We aren’t trying to please people, but we are trying to please God,
who continues to examine our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 (CEB)
How can you help your child to avoid people-pleasing?
By Dale Skram
Mom of four
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
real.life.speaker, real.faith.writer, and real.life.coach