Did you know there is an appropriate and inappropriate way in which to brag on your children? The New York Times is here to set you straight with great suggestions like brag about the effort, not the accomplishment (participation ribbons for everyone!); brag in context (whatever that means); and the one that inspired this rant: follow “the bragging formula.” The example given for this piece of advice is, “Each boast about a child should come surrounded by three negatives. My son is on the honor roll (but still wets his bed).”
No. Just … no. The only people you should be telling that your kid wets the bed are a physician, trusted advisors to help solve the problem, and any caretakers who may need to address the problem. You do not expose your child to embarrassment just so you can make someone else feel good about their child or their parenting.
You don’t expose your kid, period. Our job as parents is to protect our children. We have so much insight into both our children’s strengths and weaknesses. We have a duty to our child to help them overcome their weaknesses, but that doesn’t mean we have a right to expose those weaknesses to the world.
Listen, I get the obnoxious jerks who brag about every little detail of little Bobby’s development as though it were the pinnacle of human achievement. It’s irritating, but, if you can’t just brush that nonsense off, you may need some help. Annoying is just that: annoying. It doesn’t require intervention.
As a parent of children who have delayed development, I also understand the hurt and fear that comes when someone is talking about how smart and advanced her kid is while I’m worrying if my kid ever gets a handle on the basics or will ever grasp social skills or whatever. I get that. Trust me. And honestly, I don’t have a good answer for that one except to put your faith in the one who made him and who made you his mom or dad.
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Do I think parents in our culture have a tendency to brag too much and about the most ridiculous things? Of course. We’re Americans; we go overboard. But there is also this: I am proud of my kids. I think they are the some of the most wonderful human beings on the planet. My children are sweet and helpful and bright, and I think they’re awesome. Get this: other people think they’re pretty cool, too.
And I think that’s the solution. This weekend I had the privilege of hearing Pam Tebow speak at my mom’s crisis pregnancy center banquet. Before the event, a sponsor of the banquet was asking her advice on parenting. (MTG and I were taking notes.) She talked about the importance of loving them and of filling their minds with scripture, because when we’re no longer around to speak into our kids lives daily, they will have a deep well to draw on. The example she gave was Proverbs 27:2, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
Not only is that great advice for children not to brag on themselves, but that’s probably a good principle for parents, too. As my kids interact with people, they are praised by others. And they are praised for who they are and the fruit that they exhibit in real life situations, not mom’s rose-colored “I’ve got the best kids in the world” glasses. (I totally have the best kids in the world.) And if you brag on my kids, I’m going to agree with you heartily, and with examples.