I’m proud of you because…

Haven’t all parents said this to their children at some point? Maybe not in the same words, but the underlying meaning is the same. I’m proud of you because you were good. I’m proud of you because you got such good grades. I’m proud of you because you played well. You get the idea.

I say that to Vivaan too sometimes. He has been learning karate since last 3 months now and is doing much better than when he started. ‘Better’ is of course a relative term. In this case it means he listens to the sensei 90% of the time, does not stop in the middle of the class to stare at what other kids are doing, play with his belt or worse, with the much more interesting stuff inside his nose (it did happen once)!

Since he is doing better now, I try to encourage him by telling him after class that I’m proud of him for doing such and such. But every time I do that, a small voice inside me tells me not to. After all, isn’t a parent’s love (and pride in the child) supposed to be unconditional? Regardless of his ‘performance’ in various arenas, regardless of what the society’s standards of being ‘good’ are, should I not always be proud of him? Then why do I subconsciously  tell him that I will only be proud of him when he meets those standards – which may not even be the same as my own.

It is commonly said that a parent’s, especially a mother’s love for a child is unconditional. From what I perceive, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. From the minute they are born, we start expecting from them – that they will return our love, do well in school and sports, be nice to others, and in general, grow up to be ‘successful’ adults. If there is so much expectation, the love cannot be unconditional, can it? We may say that we want all this for their own good, but the truth is that we want them to fit in and meet all the benchmarks our society has created for them. So that we can be proud of being parents of achieving, successful children.

So next time, I will keep all of this in mind when I tell my son that I am proud of him. Instead of feeling a little let-down when he is always last in the little warm-up race they have before karate, I will be proud that he is the only kid who runs carefully so that he doesn’t step on other children’s toes. And I will tell him that and mean it too. Because it doesn’t matter if he turns out to be just an average or below-average achiever by society’s standards, I will always be crazy proud of him for being who he is.

As long as he doesn’t send me to an old people’s home…

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4 thoughts on “I’m proud of you because…

  1. Shivani ~ this is beautiful. I know that parents have the best of intentions when telling their children that they are “proud of them because…” It can set a standard for a child that might be unattainable – that certainly isnt the parents intent, but it can happen.

    You’re so insightful and this was just the thing I needed – reassurance. :-)

    • Thank you for the beautiful comment Sara. It gave me what I needed too – the reassurance that what I write is not completely meaningless to other people :)

  2. Wonderful post Shivani. Love always has a side to it which in unconditional where you love the other person especially your child despite everything… you expect, there is no doubt in that, but you don’t do everything for your child that one day he will be a support system… I think things are changing and moms are breaking out of that mould…

    • Thanks Jaspreet! Most parents don’t do things for their children in order to get support in their old age, but they still hope that their kids will take care of them, if that makes sense.. However, those are not the kind of expectations I was referring to in this post. True, we may love them no matter what, but we do sometimes give them an impression that they have to be a certain way to make us happy and get our love.. that was my point :)

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