Instead of "Proud"
A huge part of my parenting journey has been realizing that my children are their own people, very much separate from me. I recently discovered Teresa Graham Brett and Parenting for Social Change, and she even tries not to use "my" when referring to her children. As much as possible she calls them by name or refers to them as the children in her life, etc. It probably sounds strange to many or extreme but I understand and respect why she is doing it. It is a powerful reminder that the children that we are lucky enough to parent are *not us*. They will not make the same choices as us, or have the same beliefs as us, or see the world the same way as we do all the time. And that is ok, actually even better than ok, that is a wonderful truth that contributes the beautiful diversity of our world.
The word "proud" has also been on my radar lately for similar reasons. When we say we are proud of someone, including our kids, it is making their accomplishments or characteristics about us and how we are feeling rather than them. They *made* us "proud" by something they did or said.
I'm not sure I'm explaining this well and am having a hard time putting it into words. Telling our kids that we are proud of them is similar to a reward, taking away from the intrinsic value and motivation they have that naturally comes from doing things that feel right and good. It takes the ownership and focus off of them and shifts it towards us, even if in a slight and seemingly insignificant way.
Now, to be clear I'm not saying that I never feel that feeling that wells up inside of us when we see our children do something loving for someone else, or when they master a new skill, or any other awesome act we witness in the children in our lives - not at all! And of course we want to let them know that we are feeling a very powerful, positive emotion when we see these things happen. We want to connect and to let them know that we *see* them. But I do believe that it is good to examine our own motives and the words we use to describe our feelings so our children can own their experiences.
So with that in mind I have thought of at least three new ways to tell Marisol (and Gerry) how I feel when I see them growing into such beautiful people... I feel impressed, inspired, and most of all In love.
Can you think of other ways to describe that feeling we normally think of as "proud"?
11/26/2011 09:01:45 pm
12/22/2011 07:29:25 am
I struggle with the word "proud" too, but not for the reasons you stated, more for Biblical reasons - pride being one of the 7 deadly sins. I never thought of it the way you do, and I like your perspective as well. Pride is not a character quality I want to have or portray to my children (and others). And I don't want my childrent to be proud either. I looked up proud and pride in the dictionary and proud means, having or showing a feeling that one is better than others; and pride means too high an opinion of one's own ability or worth. It's so easy to say to your kids that you are proud of them for an accomplishment, but am I really? No! I don't think we are any better than the next person! I remember when Luke learned to ride his bike with no training wheels; I wasn't proud of him, I was happy and excited for him!!! So, I usually say to my kids, "I am happy for you!" I like your suggestions too, inspired, impressed, in love!! I will have to add those to my list!! Thanks Susan!!
4/18/2012 08:36:44 pm
This is wonderful! I totally understand what you are saying. There is something subjective about the word "proud." I also think it puts conditions on love and approval. I love what you are saying with "I am so happy for you" because you are! When we see our children succeed, we ARE happy for them. I think that is a beautiful way to express pride for your child without causing them to place value on themselves based on what they DO, rather than simply being who they are.
6/13/2013 03:56:12 pm
I don't know... thinking hard about all this right now... But, every night as I lay down next to my almost-5 year old son before he falls asleep, sometimes I tell him how proud I am of him, and why (e.g. "you have such a loving heart"). I don't think the focus is on me, any more than "I love to watch you play." (thx, HandsFreeMama) It takes the pressure off in the same way, that even after he's had a bad day at school, I am on his side, that no matter what, he is still an amazing boy who is worthy of pride in his mama's eyes. By just making a statement regarding how I feel about his accomplishments/traits, how does that take away or diminish his own internal satisfaction? Why wouldn't it reinforce that intrisic value and add to the motivation of doing the right thing?
10/9/2013 10:26:16 am
Lovely blog, thanks for posting.
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