With high school and college graduations approaching, parents are filled with pride for their children who have reached this important milestone. While the ceremony marks a significant academic achievement, it’s also a time for parents to reflect on the personal qualities of their child that make them proud. For those of us with kids who won’t be wearing caps and gowns for many years yet, we have to recognize their accomplishments on a smaller scale – the day-to-day moments that foretell what kind of person they are becoming. Although hearing your child utter an unprompted “please,” “thank you” or “you’re welcome” is always nice, here are some other ways they make us proud.
Siblings who get along: It’s a beautiful thing when you witness your children actually enjoying each other’s company – seeking one another out for games or, as older kids, even conversations. Unfortunately, the nature of sibling dynamics means their relationship can fluctuate from “never leave my side” to “your mere presence irritates me” even hours apart. At the end of the day, however, if your kids generally like one another and get along, pat yourself on the back. If you have children who will defend each other against other kids, you really have something to be proud of.
A kid who doesn’t buy into their own hype: Recently my son drew one of his many pictures. After I gushed over what a good job I thought he did, he said, “Thanks, but it’s just alright – not that great.” I realized then I was more proud of his statement than his picture. He didn’t need me to promote his self-esteem (which seems an ongoing, unconscious effort of parents now). He just looked at his own work, saw its flaws and without feeling down about it or himself, drew another picture. My endorsement wasn’t what he was seeking anymore – it was his own.
A child who is kind when no one’s watching: In parenting, this is like winning the “Grand Ultimate Supreme” – to borrow a phrase from the child beauty pageant world. A compassionate child, who acts from the goodness of their heart without hope of recognition or reward, is a gift to the world. If this is your child, how lucky you are.
Why wait for a ceremony to announce that it’s time to be proud of your kids? “I’m proud of you” is right up there with “I love you” – don’t be stingy with it. Take pride in yourself as a parent, too. The wonderful qualities your children possess have been born at home and nurtured by you.