Parenting isn’t easy, and as the primary caregivers for our little (or big) progeny, we often see their worst sides come out. We’re the “safe zones” where they know they can scream, melt down, and disobey, and we’ll still love them, put food on the table and clean clothes on their backs.
Because of that, it’s easy for us as parents to miss the roses for the thorns. We get so caught up in correcting the discipline issues, teaching life skills, and making sure toys are put away, instruments are practiced, and homework is done. We spend so much time being taskmasters that we sometimes miss the amazing people we’ve been given to raise.
So… if you want to encourage another parent, compliment their child. Not in a generic “she’s so smart” or “he’s so handsome” way, but in a meaningful and specific way.
- She’s so inquisitive! I love the questions she comes up with!
- He’s so considerate and nurturing of younger kids.
- She is really good at making sure everyone’s included.
- He’s determined and persistent. I notice he doesn’t give up easily.
- Look at her arrange those animals! She has a good eye.
- I love his sense of humor.
- She’s made such progress in her ability to ________.
When we as parents are reminded of our children’s positive attributes, we remember that what we’re doing matters. That all our effort is paying off, and that our children are making progress. We’re also reminded of their individuality — their unique spark, that no one else has. And when other people point that out, it helps us to value and nurture that as well.
When I taught high school, I loved doing this at parent-teacher conferences or in other parent-teacher interactions – especially for the kids whose parents are used to getting discipline phone calls. I’d talk about their creative energy, social awareness, sense of humor — all things that would be helpful in the adult world, but in our structured school system tend to cause problems, especially as the students are still developing and figuring out who they are — and their impulse control is developing too. The parent’s eyes would inevitably light up – and our conversation would change, from one based on fear and dread of how he or she has messed up to how we can help little Mikey grow into who he was created to be.
We want our parents to have hope, to see the potential in their children, not to be burdened by even more expectations.
And who knows – once they realized that you truly notice their child – that you value her – they might actually ask for your opinion on something, too! 🙂