I have been raising my children in an age when children are commended for being mediocre. They are given medals for participating and praise is heaped upon them for mundane and simple tasks or ideas. I have never bought into this. More recently there has been more talk about trophies being stupid for participation and what not and I take that as a good sign for our race....BUT I am proud to say I am not one of those parents that praise their kids for nonsense.
I will praise my children, don't get me wrong, when they do something amazing, accomplish something that they struggled to learn or anything that is extra ordinary. This is great, everyone needs a pat on the back...
BUT everyone also needs a little slap of reality. Being human means sometimes you suck. I am just as generous with honesty as I am praise. If one of my kids has done something that I think they could have done better or didn't really try that hard at, I will be sure to tell them this particular thing isn't that great. The other day, for example, I told my mom (the good one) right in front of my daughter, that my daughter had handwriting like a SeRIal KilLer! My mom was SHOCKED. She said, "Shawn! What a horrible thing to say!" This set into motion my long tirade in which I explain that my daughter is aware that she isn't perfect. She is amazing in many areas. My daughter is the most self-disciplined person I know. She has an amazing drive to excel and is always very responsible. Her determination to learn new things makes her a force to reckon with. But she sucks at handwriting and her spelling could be better. WHAT?? I'm insulting her again??!! NO! I'm just being truthful. If these things hurt her feelings, maybe she will practice her writing and spelling. If she is OK with being less than perfect in these areas it is OK too, because being human is NOT being perfect.
In this world of facebook....errr...fakebook it is easy to pretend our lives are amazing. You only post things that you are proud of, or things you think are funny. Very rarely do people post things about their imperfections. Sometimes, a celebrity will fall off their high horse and post a selfie of a naked face, and the entire world rejoices. Why is this? Because being regular and normal and HUMAN means being imperfect. That is ok.
I think, however, that more than a way to encourage better behavior or instigate more practice that being brutally honest also will give credence to my praise. Look, if I tell you that your toenails look hideous on Monday-you will believe me when I tell you that you are beautiful on Tuesday!
I pride myself in not lying to people. I do not give praise if it is not earned (and by earned I mean if I honestly feel you are worthy of it). Let us take an ugly baby for instance. I hope and pray the baby has a sweet temperament or nice eyes, because I will NOT say, "Awww how cute." I will, however say, "Aww what a sweet baby!" or "What beautiful eyes!"
Yes, I am brutally honest, but I am not brutal. I will NOT tell you you are ugly-or say anything that insults something you cannot change. I would however say, "You know, if you wore your eyeliner this way it would make your eyes pop more."
Maybe I am a horrible person....but that is just how I am and what I believe. There are good reasons for it, and I'm sorry if it makes some people think I am an awful parent.