Girls and Moms Play Dolls With Each Other: Hoping to Break The Cycle of Overprotection.
By rebecca trujillo - directora
"Overprotection. What does that really mean? And how do you know you are overprotecting your daughter?" asks one of the mothers in the affirmation group, Magic Shoes. When she asks the question, the other mothers in the group stop for a few minutes and then start talking all at once. Overprotection is the core issue for most mothers with girls with disabilities. It is a question the group of mothers who have daughters with disabilities is grappling with together. One mother asks, " How does my past affect my daughter? I was abused when I was a little girl, and I don't want my daughter to be abused. So I overprotect." It is a difficult cycle. The mothers share, and they all agree that overprotection is very hard to understand and identify. The mothers decide to talk more about overprotection but not directly with each other, but with some dolls. One way for them to do this is to go back to the beginning when their daughters were born. How did they feel with their newborn daughter? Sometimes, it helps the mothers to talk to the dolls instead of each other. Each one goes to a different spot to begin their conversation with the dolls. This conversation helps them to understand why they feel that they need to overprotect their daughters. In some cases, they feel guilty for their girl's disability or only see their daughter's vulnerability with no strengths or abilities. These conversations with the dolls help them face various aspects of their lives more objectively because the dolls are non-judgmental. Sometimes, the mothers are judgmental of themselves. So they practice what it is like to be non-judgmental with the dolls. "We learn so much when we suspend judgment and really explore our daughters' actions by sharing with the dolls." Many of these women did not have dolls to play with when they were young, so now it is helpful for them to use the doll as a little friend helping clarify their feelings and understandings. Each mother gains more insight when she is not judged, and this is the point of the affirmation groups. Most of the mothers share with their daughters using dolls. They also enjoy playing with dolls with their daughters. Reflecting in the affirmation groups, they learn to identify when they judge themselves and others and perhaps begin to trust their daughters more and let go of a bit of overprotection.
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