Don’t Complain About Your Kids
A 3 Year Old Teaches Me About Joy
My sister and I were in the elevator today
on our way to visit our mom.
This incredibly cute 3 year old
came in the elevator with her mother.
The little girl was smiling,
laughing and as friendly as can be.
She was eating a candy and
seemed to be enjoying it tremendously.
Watching her experience so much joy
I realized I can barely remember
how blissful a candy could be.
The mother was also quite friendly
and chatted with us a little bit.
Showing Appreciation to the Kid and Mom
At one point my sister said to the kid
“My goodness that candy looks so delicious.”
The kid got a big grin on her face
and nodded approval.
We could see that the mother appreciated
how we were appreciating her kid.
Here Comes the Negative
Then her face got a little serious and she said
“Oh, but she eats too much candy.”
At that moment my heart broke just a little bit.
This is something so many parents do,
complain about their kids.
Especially when someone has
just given them a compliment.
I honestly don’t quite understand it.
Why Do They Do It?
Perhaps it’s like they don’t want anyone thinking
their kids are perfect and so they have to
point out something that is wrong with them?
Or maybe they’re seeking sympathy
or empathy for the troubles
they have with their kids?
I really don’t know.
But I do know that it bugs me!
Our kids are always listening,
even when it seems like they’re not.
When we complain about them they feel it.
Our approval is so vital to their sense of self.
When they hear us consistently
pointing out their flaws to other people
it makes them feel like they’re just not good enough.
Not worthy of approval,
not worthy of acceptance
and that fundamentally translates to
not worthy of love.
A few weeks ago I was at a gathering
and spending some time with
a beautiful one and a half year old.
Her intelligence and her curiosity
were something to be admired.
Any room she walked into
would light up with her presence.
At one point I mentioned to her father
what a beautiful and bright young person she is.
He responded saying
“Yes, but she just won’t let us get any sleep.”
And while I’m sure this is true,
I really think that was not the moment
to share that particular piece of information.
When we complain about our kids to people
it affects both them and us.
Our kids are building their self-image
largely based upon our opinion of them.
Especially in the early years
we are the mirror that
shows them to themselves.
For us, when we complain
it reinforces a focus on the negative.
What We Focus On We Amplify
Of course there will always be
challenges as a parent,
but when we focus on them
we amplify them.
If we pay attention we can surely notice
at least as many wonderful moments with our kids
if not many more than the negative ones.
If we train our minds to always be
focusing on the positive
then that is what will amplify.
It is a case of
we see what we expect and
what we expect we see.
Sometimes We Need to Vent
There certainly are times when
we need to vent or seek support
from someone else.
Talking about challenges to
a trusted confidante or counsellor
can be very helpful.
This is not what I’m talking about.
I am talking about the general impression
we give to friends and strangers
whenever we talk about our kids.
Let’s Focus On The Positive
Let us make the effort to put
the positive at the top of our minds
and make that what we
predominantly share with others.
When someone compliments your kid
try simply responding with
They are wonderful
and I’m blessed.”
You will enjoy how much of a positive effect
this has on you, your kid and
the relationship between the two of you.