I used to apologize to teachers and other parents because of how opinionated, loud, and outgoing my daughter is. Now I see just how powerful her qualities really are.

selfie of mother and daughter outdoors
Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Passarella

I have a loud kid. Julia is talkative. Also pushy, quick-tempered, and opinionated. I was (okay, am) the same way. I understand her but have tended to preemptively apologize for her. At parent-teacher conferences, I’d come in with a quick joke like, “I know you have your hands full!” When a fellow parent mentioned Julia was outgoing, I’d add, “Yes, she’s something!” Instead of spinning the positive (She’s confident! She helps other kids!), I’d jest about her being “a lot.” In the back of my mind, though, I worried I was being unnecessarily self-deprecating on her behalf. Julia herself finally snapped me out of the bad habit.

Two years ago, her second-grade class voted on delegates to the school leadership team. At pickup, I could tell by her clenched jaw that Julia hadn’t been selected. “Everybody who was interested got to stand up and give reasons why they would be good,” she had explained. “I said, ‘I have a big voice! And I’m not shy at all. Also, I am always on time to school, which is important because the meetings are first thing in the morning.’”

True, pertinent, and practical—all of it. She knew her strengths, and she wasn’t apologizing for them. Why did I?

I can still help her learn to listen better and be more sensitive to others’ feelings. But raising her makes me appreciate a woman with strong qualities. She makes me appreciate myself.

So she’s got a big voice. Better to run the world with.

This article originally appeared in Parents Magazine's November 2019 issue as 'No Apology Necessary.'

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