He had just finished the job of mowing the dog pen and he looked over at me and asked, “Mom, are you proud of me? Did I do good?” Everything inside of me wanted to say, “Yes, you did great,” but I withheld that comment. The reason I withheld that comment is because I felt this was a teachable moment.
I said, “Do ‘YOU’ feel proud of yourself?” The question I got back stunned me. ”What does that feel like, Mom?” At that moment I seriously felt like I was punched in the stomach. All those years my comments must have diminished any feelings he would have of self satisfaction from work well done. I started hearing myself from the past, “Great job!” ”Way to go!” “I’m so proud of you.”
So I further pressed on with this conversation as this was a moment to behold. I asked, “Was it the best work you could have done?” ”If you were your boss, would you have thought it was worthy of paying someone for?” Well, he thought about it and decided it wasn’t the best he could of done. He saw sections he missed and said, “Maybe I should try again.” So try again he did and then at the end it was my turn.
“So, what do you think? Are ‘YOU’ proud now?” He said, “Yes, I am as it was the best I could do.” I then said, “I am also proud then.”
We never know when these teachable moments will arise and I have to say I was taught a lesson at the same time. I learned that by giving compliments and praise automatically and almost without thinking, I was teaching my son that my approval is more important than how he feels on the inside about himself. Totally unintentional, but now parenting with intention is the direction I will pursue.
My Best Parenting Advice: Are You Proud of Me, Mom? by Sarah Pickard Cole