I am proud of you

“Are you proud of me?” B looked up at me with those big expecting eyes.  His little three-year-old garbled speech made the question sound even more precious but it was clear.  Lately he asks this question several times a day and he smiles so big when you say yes. I understand this is a new phase but a very important one. I try to remember to offer the praise even when not prompted by the question. When I tell him I am proud of him, he responds with a very sincere and serious, “Thank you.”

I took for granted the phrase “I am proud of you” until about seven years ago.  Growing up and even today, my life was never short of any praise. My mom was always fast to tell me how proud she was and is of me.  I hear it daily and have all my life.  I took for granted that every one grew up this way.  When you try hard and fail?  You receive, “I am proud of you for trying your best.”  When you succeed, you hear, “I am proud of you!” While I thought most received these meaningful statements, hearing the praise always meant a lot to me and still does.

Around seven years ago, I said that phrase with a genuine intent behind it. “I am proud of you.”  The student instantly started to cry.  The reaction shocked me. The usually cheerful and hard working student had been nothing but strong and ambitious the entire year I had known her. She was working hard to find out what would be her next step in her career.  She was struggling to determine that next step as many do but she was trying everything I asked of her. After accomplishing several goals we had set, I was so proud of her and I told her so.  Yet, she cried.

“I have never had someone tell me they were proud of me.” Never? I couldn’t believe it but her reaction made me realize she was telling the truth.  She went on to tell me that she knew her family loved her but that they weren’t the praising types.  As a counselor, I understand there are different family dynamics but I wondered if her family knew what a gem of a daughter they had in her.

“I am proud of you.”

That one statement said one time meant so much to her. Years after graduation she still stays in touch with me. Every year at Christmas, I receive a card from her. The cards show her in her adventures living the life she wants and being successful. I am so proud of her.

Now as my child asks for the praise, it has come full circle. My mom blessed me with sincere praise for what I accomplished and what I tried to accomplish all through my childhood. I do think that gave me the ability to feel confident to try new things and even fail at them. I know that simple statement gave me the strong sense of support I needed to try hard but most importantly the genuine expression means “I care about you.” I won’t hold back praising B’s efforts and accomplishments. I never want to disappoint his expecting eyes and I always want him to know we love him for all he attempts and succeeds at trying.

“I am proud of you.” Such a simple statement with so much power.



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