A current Richard Armitage puzzle I’m pondering

It’s fun to ponder the paradoxical qualities and contradictions in a personality — something Richard Armitage has repeatedly said about his characters. One of the most valuable extrapolations I’ve made from things he’s said over the years is that, if, indeed, paradoxes are present constantly in the lives of the adults all around us, it’s acceptable, even natural, for there to be paradoxes in me or anyone else. Perhaps it’s the paradoxes that move us onward.

Some of these puzzles appear prominently in the view of Richard Armitage that we get as fans. The most intriguing parts of Richard Armitage’s biography, for those of us who think about it, lie in the most hidden pieces of his life. Although there’s not a tremendous overflow of information about any piece of his life, frankly, some periods are more well populated with photos and press than others. Where data is slim, historians operate by thinking about context clues. That this is a risky intellectual strategy in establishing anything with certitude is clear, but context obviously tells us something — it’s just a matter of determining what and making sure we qualify our conclusions appropriately.

Similarly, context-building is a major component of coming up with headcanon, something a lot of us do, the headcanon(s) we build about Armitage (via tropes) fascinate me. Who is Richard Armitage for me, for you? One of the most obscure parts of Armitage’s life is his childhood, and fans I know whom I’ve talked to have spent a fair amount of time speculating and building headcanon about it. In addition to its shrouded qualities, I think the interest in his childhood also gains energy from the fact that we assume childhood to be formative, and also because many of us (although not me) are parents.

Obscura was wondering about this question yesterday in the context of her own children’s paths: what happens when your child’s interests diverge from your own hobbies and strengths? Do you encourage a child against his inclination? Or do you support your child’s desires over your own judgment about what might be more practical or useful? And, by extension, how did Richard Armitage’s parents deal with this question, considering that, as Armitage has commented, there were one “singing granny” and no thespians in his family? CDoart asked that question — how did he get his parents to follow his desires — last fall.

It turns out that philosophy has something to say about this question. In the 1580 version of his essay on the education of children, Michel de Montaigne wrote,

The greatest and most important difficulty of human science is the education of children. […]  It is no hard matter to get children; but after they are born, then begins the trouble, solicitude, and care rightly to train, principle, and bring them up. The symptoms of their inclinations in that tender age are so obscure, and the promises so uncertain and fallacious, that it is very hard to establish any solid judgment or conjecture upon them. […] Cubs of bears and puppies readily discover their natural inclination; but men, so soon as ever they are grownup, applying themselves to certain habits, engaging themselves in certain opinions, and conforming themselves to particular laws and customs, easily alter, or at least disguise, their true and real disposition; and yet it is hard to force the propension of nature. Whence it comes to pass, that for not having chosen the right course, we often take very great pains, and consume a good part of our time in training up children to things, for which, by their natural constitution, they are totally unfit. In this difficulty, nevertheless […] they ought to be elemented in the best and most advantageous studies, without taking too much notice of, or being too superstitious in those light prognostics they give of themselves in their tender years …

That’s the dilemma, and I’m not sure it’s comforting to know that it’s been around for well longer than half a millennium — “you can’t force nature” vs. “don’t take your child’s inclinations all too seriously.” Montaigne was on my mind because I read him last summer with my students, but I think this question fascinates me for a number of additional reasons. First, I’ve identified a few affinities between my childhood and Armitage’s. Second, as my mother often said to me when I was younger, I was a hard child to parent (now I know that a lot of gifted children are hard to parent). But finally and probably most importantly, because I’m looking to excavate the source of the determination to be successful creatively, wherever that got shorted out earlier. If it’s going to be a “no more fear” year, how do I get to the place where the need to do something is greater than the fear of doing it? Where does it come from, that inner insistence that appears to have been present in Armitage’s life?

In other words — what I want to know is less about his parents, though I have my ideas — but as much about Armitage. The puzzle pieces that I want to put together in my picture of Richard Armitage include — the shy, solitary, quiet child; the dancer / performer; the (one presumes) polite people-pleaser; the student who was funny but not a swot and apparently not especially memorable for his schoolmates; and the child who convinces his parents to send him to stage school.

The answer, for me, and a lot of people I’ve been talking to lately, seems to lie in supportive parenting (something Armitage has said as well) in combination with individual will, determination, singleness of purpose — will to pursue certain goals, will to preserve one’s identity and desires, will to preserve a sphere of emotionality that one can touch upon creatively. A sort of “toughness despite / against” that protects an inner core. Several people I’ve been talking to lately have been musing about this question.

For instance, from DoritosFan:

I find some of the family parallels a little eerie … I think he must have been a relatively big pain to raise in that he seems to have been pretty single-minded in what he wanted to do. With open enrollment and specialty public charter schools, fostering an artistic kid is more achieveable for “regular” people now than it was when we (Armitage included) were kids.

Or, in a  commentary from WesternFan:

I’ve often thought I wanted to take parenting lessons from Margaret Armitage. Long before anyone thought it was wise to let a child “be” she taught two (I assume) to play to their strengths, not to their gender. Jaw drops to the floor, how did she know? What did she know? Perhaps there’s an instance of a trial run at conforming that she just couldn’t bear the result of? The sleepless nights while your adult “looking” 17 year old traipses the carny routes of Hungary. […] He had to have an internal part of himself that just wouldn’t take no for an answer.  An almost pathological need to do it himself that would keep him … hungry in London and not running home for help. I’m starting to see that part of me and understand that drive, oh if I could have realized it at 17, it staggers me. I don’t know many, make that ANY parents that look at their “weird” kid and think he’ll only be miserable if we try and make him “normal.”

From this viewpoint, Richard Armitage looks like the singleminded child who, as a result of his drive, as an adult, appears able to preserve intact mental toughness, determination, perseverance, strength — as well as an inner, open emotional core upon which he can draw in his creative work. He manages to draw the necessary boundaries around himself and increasingly, to be firm without being rude but still quiet and thoughtful and attentive in interviews, and to speak truthfully about his work, a work that involves a heavy level of subterfuge. The gentle, even at times retiring exterior and the emphasis on manners conceals a strong ambition.

As I’ve written in the past:

Notwithstanding this characteristic self-presentation as modest and without significant ego, key indices from his biography up to this period point equally to a personality strand we might (depending on our opinion of it) call individualist or even hedonist — a desire to work as he enjoyed and not as might be most practical or quickly remunerative, a persistent need to pursue his own desires in work as opposed to conforming to conventional vocational paths, the cultivation of physical grace and adventurousness, a willingness or even eagerness to try new things, an intellect that might be described as eclectic rather than focused, and a curiosity about the world and the people around him. In short: within the practical bounds available to him, Armitage was also someone who did what he wanted, following his own impulses, because it pleased him. Armitage’s early career steps reveal a readiness to do things because he enjoyed them or because they were interesting or provided a path to somewhere interesting, if not always a tendency to think immediately in the long term about preparation or consequences. London and the back stages of the West End might have been ideal places for a person like to this to mature […]. His willingness to stay in this milieu for so long suggests independent-mindedness, tolerance for uncertainty, and enjoyment of many aspects of things as they were. […] We might say that this pattern — along with his persistence in classical theater almost beyond his own capacity to tolerate a lack of larger roles on offer — suggests a seriousness even in his pursuit of personal fulfillment and enjoyment that is consistent, if not always congruent with, his values of industry and discipline.

I’ve also contrasted this vibe with what I’ve called his “missing killer instinct.”

I think when I wrote the material above, what I was identifying with was the desire to do what one wanted. But I think what I need to look for now are clues to preserving one’s will and excavating one’s emotions. And how to fit all of those things into one person. Where do we see Armitage’s singlemindedness coming across? How did he preserve it? And keep all the other things he wanted to keep?

~ by Servetus on January 14, 2014.

30 Responses to “A current Richard Armitage puzzle I’m pondering”

  1. Some parents crush there children because they don’t understand them or want to understand them. Other parents help there children bloom into a self confidant person. It don’t mean that they don’t let them fall a bit to help with the self confidant. Since every child is different so parenting at times can be a bit hairy. As a parent you also learn your child’s strong points and also their weaker points.

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  2. I know 2 sisters: both intelligent, beautiful, artistic — gifted. One died a lonely death from alcoholism at the age of 50 after wasting her life and her gifts. The other went on to become successful in her profession; extremely popular among family, friends, colleagues; and raised 3 gifted and successful children of her own. Both were raised by the same “eccentric” woman. I’ve often wondered why these 2 sisters had such different lives. Even though parenting is important, I think success is more about the child than the parent.

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    • I think it relates to both, which is why I put the question in the way I did. I agree that in the end the responsibility lies on the (now adult) child for living the life s/he chooses to live, but I think that parents fundamentally affect the child’s perceived capacity to do things and that this certainly varies by child. If that weren’t true, the changes we’re seeing in the personality of college classroom populations would be totally inexplicable. Why is this generation so helpless?

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  3. I will skip the parenting discussion. I have three adult children, all very different from each other as well as their wise, supportive and loving parents (that would be me and Mr. Jones.) We know so little about the “real” RA that I am of course speculating. I suppose evidence of his single mindedness would be choosing to perform live in the upcoming NY event. It would seem to take him back to his theatrical roots and his classical training. And after so many years on film, it might be a challenge as well as a thrill to be back on stage. As to the preservation of his single mindedness, maybe the answer is as simple as being compelled to be an actor and being reinforced by being hired for roles. Didn’t he say at one point he wanted to give up acting because of repeated rejections? What is the difference between single mindlessness and obsession? Is it a matter of degree? The last question: how do we know he keeps all of the other things he wanted to keep? We don’t know what or if he has sacrificed for his profession. Maybe he’d rather live in New Zealand than NY, or have a long term relationship or a puppy. He doesn’t complain much, so we may never know. There is nothing so tiresome as an actor bemoaning what he gave up for his art. Thankfully, I can’;t see RA doing that, so his sacrifices remain a mystery.

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    • I believe that I conceded the necessity of speculation in the beginning to the post. Even if we had a lot more information, however, we’d still be speculating. Also, I don’t believe I asserted that he gave up nothing for his career. Everyone makes sacrifices for his/her career, and arts careers require this kind of sacrifice with particular intensity. To me, however, it’s a puzzle how you retain the elements I’ve specified in the same person. Many of us were taught by our parents (or were forced, in my case) to surrender certain elements of our personalities under the aegis of “good parenting.” He seems to have been “raised right” without having had to surrender these things fully, and we know this because we see those things regularly. (We could get into the question of the reality of the things we see, but since Armitage is for us who we see him to be, I decided to stay out of that problem.) That’s why I am asking, because something clearly happened to him that didn’t happen to me or happened differently. The big question — either did his parents not attempt to short out his will, or were their efforts unsuccessful?

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      • I think there are multiple answers to the big question. There are too many variables between styles of parenting and personalities of children. The only clue I can think of is this: As a minor, did he require parental permission to work in Hungary at l7? If he did, then that would be evidence that his parents were supportive of his dramatic goals. If he was older than that and legal permission was not needed, then there is no clue. He never said he had to run away from home, as far as I know, or that his parents were displeased with his choice of careers, Maybe the only way to answer the question is to examine what he doesn’t say. But that is very weak evidence that I can’t really use to draw a reasonable conclusion. So my answer to the big question is “I don’t know.” But I love the questions you raise. BTW as a parent, after a certain age, I could not force my children to do anything, but I would have if I could have in many instances. My main goal was to raise happy, responsible adults.The jury is still out on that. I have two out of three so far.

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        • Yes, there are a lot of variables. The task here is to figure out which variables we can define more precisely or not. Not all the variables are equally undefined. We can use evidence and context clues to narrow down what some of them are.

          My understanding is that he wouldn’t have needed permission to work in Hungary, although he said once that he didn’t run run away, “I had permission”; he did need their help, however, to pay for Pattison College (he won a scholarship but mentioned that his mother went back to worth to help pay the school fees), which was and is very clearly a not especially intensive academic environment that concentrates on developing other qualities in its pupils. The question isn’t, I think, whether his parents were supportive; he has stated they were and if what he has said about their payment of his school fees is true that is not simply a polite nothing. If you’re a homemaker and you go to work to pay for your son’s education, you’re supportive (no matter how you feel about it).

          The question is more: as a parent, why do you do that (as opposed to encouraging your 14/15 year old son to follow a more conventional path)? It’s goes a bit beyond paying for dance lessons, which is something a parent would do out of affection, for instance. It may imply an acceptance of who your child is or a realization that your child cannot be other than he is, and a concrete decision *not* to tell him to work harder on his academics and become an accountant or architect or whatever. And, if you make this decision, then why — a consequence of your parenting priorities, or a consequence of having an extremely determined child?

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  4. Kathy has already said it – we know nothing, so everything is conjecture. For me, the singlemindedness of Armitage comes across very strongly right at the moment where he has not announced a big project but seems to be waiting for something. That, to me, looks like a singleminded focus on a specific goal. I am sure there were offers of films or TV work – which didn’t match his goal. Rather than feeling obliged (by financial or professional constraints) to take them up, he’s biding his time. Maybe it’s bloody-mindedness rather than singlemindedness? Or trust in the universe?
    Not sure how he preserved it – due to his personality, as in a strong, confident character, backed up by supportive friends and family? The knowledge that even failure would not be the end all? Trust that there is always a way out?
    As for keeping all the other things that you want to keep – I think that is a calculation that is already included when you singlemindedly focus on a goal. You balance the potential profit with the investments – emotionally. Isn’t that what we all do on a regular basis?

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    • Some of us.

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    • I think some of us were trained to suppress interest in favor of obligation and then redefine obligation as interest. I also think there are gender issues here — that this is likelier to be done to girls than boys, or certainly was a generation ago.

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      • Good point. I’ve been blinkered by my own unrestricted upbringing, I suppose, and the gender issue is certainly valid, too. I wonder, though, whether these points are often overcome with growing independence and maturity?

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        • Dare I also suggest there are cultural considerations too. I can never get over how obedient my Asian friends children are in comparison to mine. They have all worked hard, practised their musical instruments and obediently gone into medicine and law degrees. I remember moaning to a Japanese friend about how my daughter never picked up her trumpet between lessons and my friend declared ” you must make her!” How? I haven’t been able to “make” my children do anything since they learned to climb out of their cribs. Ironically I wanted my son to become a classical singer ( his music teacher said she had never heard a voice as good and we spent many happy years watching him perform) but he wanted a traditional university experience and degree.

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          • Yes, my impression is that the whole family trajectory is different for Asian families. (East) Asian parents say to their kids things like, eat your dinner so you can grow up strong and take care of daddy. The expectation in the families I’m familiar with is that the children will one day take responsibility for the parents and that’s articulated very early on; very different in the European-heritage families of the area where I grew up where planning is done years in advance for parents to stay independent as long as possible.

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        • Perhaps. But I don’t think it’s quite that easy, that you grow up, mature, and then you’re independent and then these things don’t follow you. If you’re trained in a certain way as a child learning to reject behaviors for which you have always been rewarded is difficult, especially when you see yourself being punished for rejecting those behaviors (even if you have to do that, if you are to grow). The good girl in church becomes the good girl in school and the good girl in university and then joins an institution in which she is the good girl. It’s not an unusual pattern but no one would say that adult woman at the end of the chain is neither mature nor independent.

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  5. Whilst I have long been a great admirer of Margaret and John Armitage’s parenting, as a parent myself I have come to the conclusion that there is a good deal of luck involved in raising a child. You do your best and hope that circumstance allows your child to flourish. I wonder how we would judge the senior Armitages decisions if RA had not been the success he is. We know he spent years struggling and tried other jobs ( I think he said he was a real estate agent for three years and he also said he was depressed at that time. He has also said that one of his motivations to continue pursing an acting career was that he was not qualified to do anything else.) With a 95% + unemployment rate amongst actors it is quite feasible that there are actors of equal talent and determination as Armitage who cannot support themselves in their chosen profession. And, as we sometimes see, it is not always the cream that rises to the top. In other circumstances, the Armitages might have been judged as foolhardy to encourage their child along such a hazardous path. Servetus observes that the current college generation seem quite helpless, which could be a lot to do with current parenting practice. The way I see it, the parent who allows their 10 year old to cross town unaccompanied would be regarded as negligent and partly to blame if that child met with harm. But if they managed it successfully, the parents would be praised for raising a child to be independent and well equipped to deal with the challenges of independent living.

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    • Montaigne says this as well (in parts of the essay I didn’t quote) — that you can’t really fully calculate your way through parenting (and, of course, he lived in an age in which children were still slightly more likely to die before reaching adulthood than live).

      I’m not denying the role of luck — but I think we wouldn’t be asking this question if Armitage had not been successful, because we wouldn’t know who he is. To me that’s a problem on the level of “what if he isn’t like he seems?” We can note that it’s a problem but if we take it too seriously we have to stop asking the question, and I want to ask this question. So if you want, I can rephrase the question in this way: insofar as all outcomes derive at least in part from luck (or, as historical sociologists would put it, “events and circumstances”), what factors that we can elucidate have allowed Armitage to preserve this particular combination of self-control, determination, drive, individuality, and emotionality?

      I agree that people are likely to blame parents (no matter what happens); one sees that even pregnant women are the object all of sort of “you’re doing it wrong” messages even before the baby’s made it outside of the womb. Blaming parents wasn’t the point of my question about the college students I teach, though. A teacher, like a parent, has to develop experience in figuring out which challenges are practicable at any given point (educational theory calls this “proximate level of development”). We don’t allow three years olds to walk alone across town; we expect that an eighteen year old must be able to do so. How does the child traverse the series of experiences and challenges that gradually make him able to do this? Teachers, and, I assume, parents, try to figure out how to set up situations with an acceptable level of risk that challenges without overwhelming (or endangering) the learner. How do you help your child steer between the shoals of the demands of the world and the truthful features of his own personality? If you are the “child,” how do you stay true to yourself without getting involved in a laming conflict of will with your parents?

      I don’t know, however, that even if we *knew* the Armitages personally so that we could assess the situation if Armitage had not become the success that he is, we would blame them for encouraging him on a poor path. Surely we would ask whether he was happy, self-actualized, etc., a reasonable amount of the time (given that no adult is happy 100% of the time)? The point for me is not about the fact that Armitage is successful, although he is, and I can observe him because he is successful, and part of why he is successful lies in the fact that he’s preserved these facets of his personality. The question for me lies in how he has managed to do so. Speaking from the point of asking questions about creativity, it seems to me that whether or not he were successful, in order to be creative he would have had to preserve these facets. For people who are trying to resurrect that piece of themselves, like me, it might be valuable to ask — what do you have to reach back for, rewrite, recalculate?

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      • Direct question – direct answer: I think one has to reach back for trust. I know I have made it a bit of a mantra (here and otherwise), but I think trust is at the bottom of it all. First and foremost you (as in “one”) have to trust yourself and your own judgment of your wishes, abilities and talents. Then you need to trust your network of friends or family to support you. Lastly, there is trust in the universe, or call it willingness to be guided by circumstances but with your goal always in mind.
        Regaining the trust may require the rewriting and recalculating, as you put it – reevaluating yourself in relation to your parents, your work, your calling and your talents. I think the onus is always on you yourself – noone is going to do it for you. And to hark back to what I said before about maturing – it is when we mature that we may be able to loosen the bonds of obligation and/or indoctrination that our parents may have put around us. And there is no particular point when this happens. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later. I am not saying that gaining independence is an automatic, unavoidable process – some people do not need to become independent in that way because they have already been given the freedom to develop in the best possible way. Others gain independence of mind because their parents push for it. Others again will never be able to detach themselves. But it *is* possible, and it is a process that is connected to maturing imho.

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  6. It’s even more confusing if you have the full support of your parents in certain areas, but not in others. They would rather not have you follow what naturally suits you best. Personally it is a major struggle, on the one hand know my parents would do whatever they can to help me out, but also knowing they’d never fully support me in my creative endeavours. Almost like requesting me to shrink my right arm, while still useful in that state, the left matters more. If I had chosen the more respectable (and stable) career in the law for instance, they’d be perfectly happy. It wouldn’t matter as much that I’d probably be quite miserable in that profession, as I’d have a steady income and a solid foundation to work from.

    But I can understand their dream for their children, knowing where they’d come from. For me the past couple of years have been all about that, finding myself in the familial quagmire we created as I’ve played the diligent child for too long.

    So yes, I’d definitely say knowing he has a supportive network of friends and family early on, helped him to develop the determination and single-mindedness he’s come to rely on. To know you can fall back on them, but not be treated as some fool who shouldn’t have gone down that path to begin with can make a huge difference.

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    • Thanks for this, CC — this is a really thought-provoking comment. I’ve had a lot of discussions like this with contemporaries from school who have children who are now going to college, from the perspective of them asking me what I’d advise. Surely, they say, I’d advise their creative children to get a practical degree (business, law, science, teaching, nursing, etc.) rather than to pursue their creative desires? My answer to that is that it depends on the child and the child’s capacity to tolerate frustration more than it does on the parent’s desire to see the child “into safe harbor.”

      My parents were certainly that way — they perceived that they’d suffered for not going to university and they were going to enable that for their children so that we could have more possibilities. My mother and I had a lot of conflicts over this over the years — for her, a lot of the things I was doing were means to ends whereas I thought of them as ends in themselves. I think that’s part of why I’m asking this question right now — her death has meant that I’m no longer necessarily under certain practical or emotional obligations, or at least not in the same way.

      I have found it hard to know whether, or when, one can stop being the diligent child. One would wish it could happen with less pain while one’s parents are (still) alive so one could enjoy them more …

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  7. one thing that seems clear to me is that while no parents can guarantee success or happiness for a child, it is certainly possible for a parent to guarantee the inverse through a lifetime of attempting to bend a child into a mold that just won’t fit.

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    • FWIW I think the parents of certain kinds of disabled children (esp kids w/behavioral issues) deal with this too — do I focus on the outcome of parenting (raising a “good” child over against all these problems my child experiences) or do I focus on relationship (making clear to my child that I am his ally in dealing with these problems he’s experiencing). The Peskies deal with figuring out where to balance the scale of this dilemma a lot with Pesky jr., who is very smart but absolutely not neurotypical.

      If the teacher is mad because your child is not “with the program” in whatever way — where as a parent do you put yourself in supporting the teacher’s attempts to get your child on task vs helping your child to respect his own personality to assess what he wants to do? My parents *always*, always came down on the side of the teacher. I can see why they made that choice in retrospect, but the outcomes of it in my life were clear.

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      • That is a constant balancing act I think…imo, part of parenting is being an advocate for ones child, but sometimes you advocate for your child by not “taking his/her side” I’ve seen it go out of bounds in both directions in the recent past…sophrosyne is always my goal…I don’t always get it right though.

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        • Learned the hard way how to advocate for a child. This was son1 who has LD. Learned to hear all the facts first them decide what to do. Even with son3 who has autism we advocate for him if needed. There is also the time to teach them to self-advocate, as we will not always be around for them.

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  8. Because I was a ‘molded’ child (not green but shaped) and because I am a nurturer and whatever the other word he said I can’t think of…a people pleaser and because I have a daughter with almost the exact same personality, I have become an evil parent. Every chance I get I encourage her to choose for herself first, choose the one she likes, ignore them, choose you. She likes to tell me ‘that is being selfish’, something I’ve never told her. She has been a sweet girl who was always the one who would go get anything you needed, scratch your back, rub between Dad’s toes, without any thought at the menial nature of the task, but I’ve noticed a definitive change in her this year. She has actually put her foot down about things she wants, really put her foot down. She’s started saying ‘no’ to all the odd requests we’re all so used to her filling. Her temper flares, instead of the shy retreat. It’s a pain in the butt and the single achievement, as a parent, that I am most proud of, to date. (But it is a real pain in the butt when I need someone to bring me popcorn from the kitchen and she is reading and says to leave her alone. So strange to be terribly annoyed and deeply satisfied in the same breath)
    She is still very polite and greatly loved in school for her kindness and easy manner. She is still the most loving of the three, the warmest of the personalities. I feel like she has a little shield though now , a little vambrace against bas****s that would use her goodness against her. She’s learning to be mad when she feels mad and say no when she means no and let people be angry with her and let them get over it, not her feel guilty about it. I mean for her to join the circus at 17 if she wants to and give me the most beautiful white hair…

    Now, to get the other two to stop thinking they are the sun in their own little galaxies…

    As to the Armitage puzzle, I have no idea how he’s done it. It makes no sense to me that a man with his job, his personality and his drive can inhabit the same body. No. Sense. It’s the gravy. “Guess who’s making the gravy?” And I’m thinking, a real people pleaser would be hosting, making the turkey, homemade stuffing and grandma’s rolls not standing by the stove, a glass of wine in one hand and a whisk in the other saying “I AM helping!!”

    Just sayin’ Mr. A. The gravy? really?

    It’s a lot easier for me to fit THAT in to the personality I think you have to have for work on the stages/screens of the world.

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    • Good for you both!

      This gets directly to the problem I’m addressing, too. To some extent, in many children, will is inborn, but can it, should it, be cultivated? Girls need this in particular at the moment.

      Your further comments get to the possibility that his self-description as a “people pleaser” is a mischaracterization. Armitage may not be a reliable narrator. Perhaps, if you often find yourself not wanting to do things you need to do, you describe yourself that way because you think, “all of these things I do to make people happy, if I only didn’t have to do them.” Or, you think you are a people pleasure because you try to cooperate with your mother but your mother doesn’t think so because you are not successful …

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  9. […] about Richard Armitage as he wishes to present himself personally. Filling in the picture of what must have been in certain respects a challenging childhood adds substantially to his sympathy as an interviewee and to his ethos as an artist. Those […]

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  10. […] remember a time in his life before he was dancing. I think even before the recent revelations, there were always signs that Armitage hadn’t had the most idyllic childhood, and I’m not the only person who’s wondered if his mother said, “Let’s get […]

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