We’ve all met one – the forceful, unyielding woman. Usually belittling, sometimes talented and almost never humble, the stereotypical diva is commonplace in American culture. Back in the day, we had the likes of Tina Turner and Cher. Now, we hear horror stories of Mariah Carey or JLo showcasing their diva-like attitudes for all of us to gawk at. The diva is not historically a vision of fragile femininity of which our society praises.

The first time my 18 month old daughter was called a diva, I paused. Looking straight into the eyes in front of me, I looked for hints of an insult. I knew what they meant – my toddler was different. She liked things a certain way and didn’t want other small kids to mess with them. Actually, she didn’t like toddlers at all. They invaded her personal space, snatched things out of her hands and didn’t communicate well. While other toddlers were screaming incoherently, my kid was putting two and three word sentences together. However, when she hit her toddler breaking point, the diva emerged – complete with tantrums and violent behaviors. It wasn’t pretty.

Those days were rough for me, as a new mom. My daughter, now three years old, would thrive during our one-on-one time but, essentially, would become hostile when strangers approached. She didn’t smile or laugh with others, making it difficult for our families to connect with her. She was, and continues to be, extremely keen and observant – she would absorb any lesson I created for her – but her diva-like behavior made it difficult for us to socialize.

Eventually, she outgrew the severity of this behavior, but she still likes things a certain way. And, no longer a new mom, I’ve come to really dig her diva’s confidence. Growing up in a traditional Latino family, the cultural norm for kids was to be seen (and be cute), but not heard. By cute, I mean respectful. There was not a lot of wiggle room in our behavioral expectations. And while I do appreciate the foundation of great manners instilled in me, I have a hard time saying no or standing my ground. As a woman trying to achieve success, those are not great personality traits to possess.

How to raise a diva - Voices from the Ville

As I continue to raise my baby diva, I knowingly caress the parts of her personality that create confidence and strength. I refuse to shush her just because she’s a kid without a well-thought out idea. I let her make choices – from her breakfast to her hairstyle – sometimes, what she says goes. And, most importantly, I listen. Because, while it’s not always a good thing, a true diva knows that when she talks, people listen.

Tempered with my Latino cultural background of respect and manners, my hope is that my little girl continues to grow into her diva-like confidence. I hope that, as an adult, she can assert herself, be clear of her strengths and skill sets, and not feel diminished by nay-sayers. Owning a diva attitude can be an amazing thing. If squaring your shoulders and raising your chin, while facing the world with a positive attitude, is being a diva – then go ahead, baby girl – own your inner diva!

You can read more by Vanessa at De Su Mama.

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Vanessa Bell

Vanessa Bell

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Vanessa Bell is building a legacy at De Su Mama, where she writes letters to her bicultural and biracial children. She documents their legacy through explorations of identity, food culture and family travel. She also loves photography. Vanessa resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and two children, Alina and Sebastian.