I love the British phrase “Well done you!”. Whenever a friend said it to me, it felt like someone had given me a gentle pat on the back; a thumbs-up; an encouragement that I’d done a good job. Nothing flashy, no fanfare; just a simple acknowledgement that they’d noticed my effort. It brings a smile to my face even now, remembering the times when I’d received such a nice compliment. It’s made me think though, how rarely we as adults encourage each other in the good job of parenting. We can be quick to criticise or judge if we observe anything we deem sub-standard, yet how often do we intentionally say, “Well done… you are so patient with your children. You show your kids a lot of respect. Great job in juggling your busy schedule and theirs. I love how you’ve got a great sense of humour when dealing with difficult situations…etc”.
It’s very natural to praise kids for their efforts. Kids thrive on encouragement, and many a good parenting manual will say, look for ways to do so. From star charts to high fives, there are many simple ways to encourage kids by applauding attitude, behaviour and work. However, praise and approval shouldn’t end with childhood growth and achievement. Parents too, are on a journey of growth; growth in the fine art of parenting.
At every new stage of the parenting journey we can find ourselves floundering and despondent. The job description is daunting and we can be critical of ourselves; always questioning our ability and constantly measuring ourselves against our peers. ’Mum Guilt’ is real. While you may be unable to change another’s perception of how they view themselves, timely words of encouragement go a long way in building up self-esteem.
My Father has always been a great encourager of me. Even after a hectic visit at my place (usually consisting of me being: hostess, chef to food critics, an on-call taxi service, peacekeeper, nurse, psychologist, teacher/coach), he will say to me, “I know I say this a lot, but, I think you do a great job.” While it may not seem like much, those seven words mean a lot. A kindly reminder that I’m doing okay.
So, I encourage you as I encourage myself, look for ways to say, “Well done you” to a fellow parent. A verbal ‘Gold Star’ might be just what they need to keep up the good work.