Bragging or sharing joy..?

Child 1

Child 1 (Photo credit: Tony Trần)

I once did a yoga class in the dark. My teacher used to always say, ‘yoga is not a competition, you only need to chart your progress against yourself: did you go an inch further this week than last week’?

I see parenting and our children’s progress the same way. There is no need to compare one child to another. Each is on their own unique, individual journey – one which is perfect for them. Is there a temptation even pressure to judge and compare, just to check they are doing ‘alright’? Sure… but it is so liberating in those moments in which we can totally transcend that.

A friend tells me: “my kid started walking at seven months” or “my child’s vocab has been burgeoning in the last few weeks.” Personally, I really appreciate and enjoy when people share facts like this with me about their children. They are letting me in a little to their lives and I love that. I feel like one of the family. And now, with toddlers, I often share deep belly-laughs for the antics of other cute, smart kids in our circle. I try only to measure each child’s progress (if at all) against their achievements when I had last seen them. When you view it like that, you become totally detached from the toddler-rat-race and able to rejoice in each child’s accomplishments.

In fact, in a way (as I have said before), I view them all as my children. What I mean by that is that I try and look through my mama-eyes at all kids and find the empathy, enjoyment and pride for all of them.

And I do not consider it bragging to tell me what a child has achieved… unless there is a value judgement that goes with it, some implication that therefore they are better than other children. Indeed, I think there is a fundamental difference between bragging and reporting facts. Bragging of the ‘this child is better than that one’ kind is ugly and stinks a little, too. But observing with loving interest what your child has been doing is not bragging, in my opinion. It is joy, shared. It is a fine line, I grant you. But there is a trend, nowadays, to feel you cannot talk about your child’s successes to others, lest it be seen as a kind of vanity. I guess, I am just appealing for a middle ground, balance. Yes, keep your value judgements (of good/bad, better/worse) to yourself. If you need to share them because they are burning a hole in you, keep them in the immediate family, I reckon. But do not hold back from sharing with me your factual observations of what your child has done. Do share with me, also, your feelings about this, please (sadness, joy, shame, hope, anger, pride, etc. are all, effectively, another kind of fact – emotional truth). Let’s leave it at that, though: fact and truth. Then we can all rejoice in the achievements and progress of all life’s children.

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4 thoughts on “Bragging or sharing joy..?

  1. Great reframing of “mommy pride”! I love how you describe trying to look at all children through loving “mama eyes.” Such an important part of parenting – the openness to care deeply for children beyond my own.

  2. Love it! I agree and everyone knows moms love talking about their children. I’m happy to hear a mom talking happily about the things their kids are doing. And I know I enjoy sharing as well. I do, sometimes, feel the need to say that kids will all do things at a different pace based on temperament, environment, etc but it’s all great no matter when it happens.

    • Thanks. I think – after talking to people about this post on facebook, too – that really what I am appealing for is for all of us to listen to other people’s stories about their kids with a soft heart, look at their achievements (as I say) through mama-eyes.

      You are right, when we talk about our children to other people, especially (as is the way of the world) about those who are doing well at something, we need to be aware of how it might sound to somebody who doesn’t (yet?) have their own Universal-mama-ears on, so to speak, somebody who might be worried about their kid’s development or just be competitive in nature. In a way, part of being a gentle parent is being peaceful, respectful and empathic in dealing with other parents, too. So, I agree with you, the old ‘they’ll all get there in the end and who will remember who got their first?’ line (or others of the type) can be a reminder that we are not judging and it isn’t a race, which relaxes everybody. Love all around…

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