Do You Tell Your Kids When You’re Proud?

I don’t know why this story popped into my head yesterday, but I really feel like sharing it so here goes.

Back in high school I took singing lessons and participated in competitions called Solo and Ensemble. You had to prepare a musical piece or two, then go sing them to a judge who would rate you as a 1, a 2, or a 3. If you got a 1 or a 2 in the local competition, you qualified to move on to compete at the state level. There were also nice medals involved, and the judge would give you a critique to help you learn more and improve. It was a tremendously nerve-wracking experience for me; I was extremely self-conscious at that age.

I think it was my sophomore or junior year in high school when I went to a competition at the local level. Several students from the school were participating, so we all rode together. Parents were invited, and my mom came along to support me.

There was a guy Steve in our group with whom I’d been acquainted most of my life; I remember him teasing me in church when I was little. We rarely spoke to one another as he was pretty popular and accomplished. Me? See above point about self-consciousness. Steve was a large guy, full of exuberance and fun. His personality filled whatever room he entered and he usually had everyone laughing along very quickly.

As it turned out, Steve had to sing in front of the same judge as I did that day. We were in a small classroom with ten or twelve other people watching. Steve did horribly. He completely bombed his songs, couldn’t even remember the words. And the judge scored him a 2. This actually boosted my confidence. If he could do so poorly and get a 2, surely I could get a 2 or even a 1. I sang a little while later, hitting all my notes and remembering all my lines.

That same judge gave me a 3.

It was devastating. And public. Everyone there knew what had happened, and there was nothing I could do to protest. I think my choir teacher may have said something to the judge and asked for a new opinion, but I really don’t remember very well. Either way, the decision stood.

What I do remember with complete clarity is my mom saying to me in a low voice as I fought back tears:

“I’m so proud of you right now.”

That? That made all the difference in the world to me. Even though I was humiliated and hurting, to know that Mom was proud of my reaction really helped. And it gave me the strength to continue through the day with some dignity.

Do you tell your kids when they make you proud? They may not act like your approval and pride matters to them.

Betcha it does.

Go ahead. Let them know when you’re proud of their actions or decisions or character.

I don’t know if my mom realizes the impact her words made that day. I think perhaps it’s time for me to tell her.

Earnest Parenting: help for proud parents.

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10 Responses to “Do You Tell Your Kids When You’re Proud?”

  1. Vic says:

    That is a touching story. Some parents or people in general don’t realize the weight their words have on other people. Be it their kids, friends, siblings, boss, employee etc. Words are powerful use them wisely.

    .-= Vic´s last blog ..Mold In Basements =-.

  2. UPrinting says:

    What a sweet and heartwarming story. Moms are great that way aren’t they? They manage to make all the difference in a kid’s life with just the simplest of words. Just to know that our moms are behind us and are proud of us with every step that we take, that gives us strength and motivates us to work for the things we want to achieve.
    .-= UPrinting´s last blog ..Why At-Home Sticker Printing Just Doesn’t Cut it =-.

  3. Vicky Hennegan says:

    What a great story and one of those things that are so simple, but something we so soon forget to do.

    I do tell my kids I’m proud of them, but thanks for the great reminder. I’m calling each of them (they’re teens) and leaving a message on their cell phones. I NEED TO REMEMBER TO DO THIS.

    One thing I do do well and often is say ‘thank you’ to them when they do things. My feeling is that if I normally would say ‘thank you’ to someone (ie.. waitress, friend, co-worker) that I should also say it to my kids.

    I do notice… every once in a while that they express that this little gesture does mean a lot to them.

    Thanks Amy for the great article!

  4. Sad says:


    I’m sad you are no longer allowing do follow links. I always enjoyed reading your post and participating in the discussion. Your blog was one of my favorites to visit and receiving a valuable link was a huge benefit. I hope you will reconsider. Time is short and while I always enjoy your thoughts I also have to go where there is mutual love.


  5. Rachel White says:

    I love this story. Some people don’t realise how much impact they have on someone else’s life; whether it’s the smallest of negative comments that can affect someone for the rest of their lives to a massive confidence boost.

  6. Resumes says:

    It was one of my heart-touching story no words to express my feel.

  7. Wendy says:

    Amy, thanks for sharing this memory!

    A few years ago I got my teens pens and pencils that had “I’m so proud of you!” stamped on the side of them for Christmas. I wrapped them up with a note, telling each of them why I was proud of them (they were each trying new things outside of their comfort zones). My son still uses those pens when writing rough drafts of college essays. I saw the note I wrote to my daughter in her treasure box the other day.

  8. Amy says:

    Vic thanks. I needed the reminder today of the power of words; I’ll keep it with me tomorrow for sure.

    UPrinting, it’s easy to forget that I can have that same kind of impact on my own kid. I have to do better at keeping my own lesson in mind.

    Vicki, great idea about leaving them messages on the cell phone! Love it!

    Rachel thanks. Nice site!

    Resumes, awwwww, thanks.

    Wendy what a great idea! And so cool that it meant so much to them.

  9. Amy says:

    Sad, your identity is not clear and this is your first comment so I’m a little confused about the whole enjoying participating in the conversation thing.

    Dofollow did not attract as many quality comments and conversation as it did spammers and people just trying to use my blog to boost their own page rank.

    My spamkiller does a pretty great job, and my moderating of first-time commenters assures that readers don’t have to wade through some pretty ugly stuff. I however, have to wade through it just to make sure I’m not missing any real comments and that takes valuable time.

    For every one comment on this blog there have been 5 spam attempts. When I discontinued the dofollow links, I was getting hit with a ridiculous amount of comment spam. That has dropped off considerably, so I’m happy with the decision.

    I of course hate to lose readers, and I knew I was taking that risk when I turned off the link love. I have to balance that against my time and my sanity though, and this is the best I can do.

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