Yesterday at a mom’s group, I was speaking about “praise” versus “encouragement.” Typically, parents agree they want to encourage, NOT praise, but inevitably someone will ask me, “Can’t I say I’m proud of you? What’s so wrong with that?”
Parents can’t seem to imagine dropping this seemingly vital comment from their repertoire.
Well, today my 14-year-old daughter gave me a peek into the child’s perspective on this when she said to me, “Mom, I am so glad you don’t say I’m proud of you.” I said, “Really? Why is that?”
She said, “You know how I was trying to get fit and lose some weight? I just told Zoe [her sister] that I lost two pounds this week and she smiled and said, “I’m so proud of you!” and it felt awful. It made me feel like she really does want me to lose weight and be thinner. That she doesn’t think I am okay at this weight.”
I listened and replied, “But I was excited too when you told me about your weight loss. Do you feel I’m judging you too?” She answered “No, Mom, what you said was totally different. You said you were excited for me and my accomplishments that I worked hard on. You said you were happy that I got what I was going for. I loved hearing that support and belief in me.”
I asked Lucy’s permission to share her perspective with my parent readers. I hope some of you feel better dropping the “I’m so proud of you” line now too. Gosh, I hope Zoe doesn’t feel badly reading this. I know she was not intendingto make her sister feel badly. She didn’t know the power and message of those words, just like most parents don’t.