5 Words Every Kid Needs To Hear From Their Parents.

Last night I watched a local production of Disney’s High School Musical in our town’s high school auditorium. My 11-year old daughter had a part in the production. I couldn’t take my eyes off her the entire time she was on stage. She was amazing. I was gushing with pride and I couldn’t wait to tell her.

Enjoying time as a family

Several years ago I was at a Christmas program with my girls when I saw something very discouraging. In the hallway, a father was lecturing his son. This wasn’t any ordinary lecture. From the vantage point the kid hadn’t done anything wrong, mis-behaved in any way, or embarrassed the father. You know what he had done? Missed a cue on stage. He came out late for his part. He stepped out of sync with the others. I couldn’t believe what I was watching.

What I felt like doing was interrupting and asking the father if this were Lion King on Broadway, and whether or not we were standing in the Minskoff Theater in Times Square? But I didn’t do that. I never do that. I’m the type of person who spends a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to say, or would like to say, but never actually saying it!

It was hard to watch that happen a few years back. The reason is that I have always been an encourager. From the time I was a young kid, around the age of 10 or so, I have encouraged people. It never stopped through my years of becoming a teenager, through college, or now. Even if something was an absolute disaster- a song was out of key, or there was an awkward moment on stage where the music didn’t start, or someone forgot their line, I want to encourage.

I’m not elevating myself, but if that would have been my kid, I would have encouraged him. I would have told him how proud I was of him. So what if he missed a cue (in a children’s program mind you!).  So what if something didn’t go as planned! He was trying. This might sound harsh but shame on that father for missing an opportunity. Instead of giving encouragement he lectured. Instead of building up and pouring into the child with kind words, he attempted to teach or direct him.

I am proud of you are words that are not spoken enough in our world, especially to our children. I’m a guilty party here as well. It makes sense why they aren’t. Most of us adults work and live in a professional world. Many of us are in jobs based on performance where we do not have a supervisor or boss looking at our work and giving an atta-boy or atta-girl. They care only that a deadline is met and the product or project was spot on. I get that. Fortunately I am not in a work environment like that. But many are. And it’s hard to not translate that to home life.

It’s hard to not drag that drive to succeed and perform into the garage with you at the end of a work day. I get it because I am a driven person. I love results. I want to see ideas or strategies implemented and I get frustrated quick when that doesn’t happen or it takes too long. But my children are…children. They see the world through the wisdom of Spongebob Squarepants and Barbie’s Fairytopia. They make crucial decisions based on what Ironman would do or how Batman would respond.

Perhaps the reason there are so many dreams aborted by the time a kid graduates from college has something to do with the absence of those 5 simple words- I am proud of you? Maybe there would be more world-shapers, big dreamers, and hardcore doers if they heard these words more frequently? There are 4 fingers pointing back at me as I type that :-(!

Last night I was gushing with pride. I couldn’t wait to tell her. She rocked too. I’m talking up on a lunchroom table, during one of the all-company numbers, guitar in hand, doing her best Taylor Swift impression (being a fellow “Swifty” I loved that part!). We decorated her with roses when the performance was over. She did a fantastic job. So did the whole cast. They deserved tons of atta-boys and atta-girls. The words I am proud of you, were warranted. Even if there were miscues, they would have been warranted. The reason? They’re children. They need to hear these 5 words from their parents!

Question: Do you have trouble with these 5 words? What needs to change? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Mandy Suhre

    Dear Mike, I absolutely love this post. So many kids are being torn down rather than being built up. I can still remember at my home church seeing a young boy and his dad outside of a Sunday School classroom shaking and yelling at his son. His son didn’t do anything wrong; he just needed his dad at that moment that’s all. This goes along with the goals and dreams book I wrote and am wanting to get published.

    Mandy Suhre

    • Hey Mandy, thanks so much for your comment. It’s painful to see parents behave like that. Good luck with the publishing of your book. How exciting!

  • No Matter What Mom

    Growing up, I often felt almost like a kid my parents could be proud of. As an adult, I have felt that telling other adults that I am proud of them might be risky in the sense that it might seem condescending, despite that I just want to acknowledge the courage and strength that it takes to meet some of life’s more difficult challenges and to keep going in the face of hardship. For the most part, I have resolved to take that risk and hope for the best. It means the world to me when someone else says it to me.

    With my children, adopted as school-aged children, it is especially important. Yet, because it was not inherent in my family culture to be overtly nurturing towards children, I found it hard at first. I had to make myself say it out loud to my kids and to others in my children’s hearing. When our children first came to us, they thought very poorly of themselves and would reject anything good we said to them about them. Plus, it felt awkward to me to say out loud what I felt in my heart. But when our kids overheard us telling someone else about how proud we were of them, they were able to start taking it in. Now, I say it out loud and directly to them (and anyone else within earshot), several times each day. For example, my youngest son told me today that he is getting along a little better with his one-on-one aide at school now and my daughter finally got her new contact lenses in and out of her eyes. I was so stinking proud of each of them that the words just came bursting out of me. It’s just what happens when an imperfect mom gets overhauled by an amazing and almighty Father.

    By the way, I am proud of you, Mike, for taking the risk of putting your parenting experience into words and laying it out for anyone to read. We are often the most helpful to others when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Our family’s journey has been so difficult that I have often felt that I could not take the risk of being vulnerable because I was beyond exhausted and didn’t have a lot of emotional reserves. We are in an easier place recently, yet I am not ready to start blogging again. I am proud of you for continuing, even in the face of your current difficulties. I will be praying for God to deliver you and your family safely through this storm.

    • Thank you for your kind words and encouragement!