Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Pass the Compliments, Please
I have developed a simple rule about criticism in my family. Do it as rarely as possible (hopefully never!). When necessary, do it privately, quickly, and specifically. Make a habit of heaping on the compliments, always trying to emphasize things that are positive (and there are always so many to choose from).
Ben and I used to talk openly about things that the kids were doing that were difficult, mistakes that they had made, etc-- in their presence, in the presence of friends and strangers. And then one day, out of the blue, I realized that Zosia was listening to every word. Sadly. And understanding everything.
And then I noticed that often when I shared something that we were working through in our household with friends or acquaintances, they often held on to it and then brought it back up, or made generalizations based on it. Not maliciously. They just didn't quite understand the context in which I brought the issue up (which is generally the context of a lot of love, understanding, and joy, not complaining, blaming, or insulting).
I have eagerly accepted the lesson to be learned. Just as I don't criticize friends or Ben in public (or at all, when I'm at my best), I have stopped criticizing my children. Because the truth is, they are such a joy to me. I delight in them every second of the day. They have beautiful spirits and they are both precious gifts to the world. And it is my job to remind them of that.