Two weeks ago on social media I posted a picture of a certificate my son had earned for reading his first 100 sight words. (The kindergarteners don’t actually need to know these words until the end of the school year, but Oliver has had a passion for reading since he was three and has been reading short chapter books.) When I posted the picture, I felt the need to write this first: “Warning: #mombrag.” Why? Why do I feel I need to WARN people that I am going to boast about my child’s accomplishments? Why is it not okay to tell others how proud we are of our children?
The answer is simple: because we know that one or more people will somehow read this instead: “my kid is better than your kid.” While there is a fine line between superficial bragging and simple pride, I’ve met very few parents who actually had an attitude of arrogance. Most of us just love our children and we want to encourage them with our words.
Sometimes people forget that we all have talents and strengths, and they are often not the same as our neighbor or friend.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Here’s the thing: what makes me proud of my son is often completely different than what makes me proud of my daughter. Just like what makes another parent proud of his/her children might be completely different than both of my kids. No matter what, there is almost always something you can find in your children to be proud of.
Maybe your son has had behavior problems at school, but he’s improved and has made friends. Maybe your daughter has been getting bullied and she finally stood up for herself. Maybe you have an autistic child who hugged you without prompting for the first time. Maybe your son has been struggling with stage fright and faced his fears. Maybe your daughter, who has dyslexia, made it through her first book.
As parents, it’s okay for us to be proud of our children. We want our children to recognize their strengths and talents, but it’s also important for them to be humble and modest. My husband and I learned about that fine line between pride and arrogance this summer, when our daughter went through a “diva” phase. We saw it at home and then unfortunately saw it at her dance studio, which was beyond disappointing for us.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
We talked to Evelyn (our daughter) a lot about humility and about how God wants us to act. She wrote apology letters to those who needed to receive them, and at a worship dance camp she voluntarily spoke up and repented for her sins. We were proud of her for asking for forgiveness and we saw a huge difference in her attitude. Then two weeks ago she found out she was going to have the same part in The Nutcracker for a fourth year in a row. I knew how excited she was to get promoted this year and have the opportunity to dance in a different role, so I could feel her disappointment when she got the news. I expected tears and a long discussion about it, but she astonished me. We went home, I hugged her, and we discussed how many girls dance the same parts year after year and that it’s wonderful just to be a part of the production. Not one single tear or “poor me” talk came out of her. We were SO proud of the way she handled the surprise with such grace and maturity.
Sometimes we parents need to recognize those “little” accomplishments, too.
I really enjoy listening to my friends talk about their kids’ latest triumphs (or reading about them on Facebook). Have you ever noticed how peaceful and happy a person looks when they’re beaming over their child? It’s a look that could never be replicated by anything else. I remember seeing that look on my parents’ faces and how loved it made me feel.