The Power of the Word “Proud”

“Proud”

Word type:  adjective

Definition:  feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.

Synonyms:  pleased, glad, happy, delighted, joyful, satisfied, thrilled, gratified

Probably the most powerful word you can use as a parent and far more impactful than any of its synonyms.  Most kids thrive on making their parents proud.  As often as your kids deserve it, and even for little things, let them know when they make you proud.  You can immediately tell the effect from the type of smile you get in return.

  • “That’s great.  I’m proud of you.”
  • “You made me proud when you _______”
  • “You should be proud of yourself for ______”
  • “Best of luck, we know you’ll make us proud.”

When your kid goes off to college and even when they are professionally employed and living on their own, they will still cherish the word when it comes from you.

Sit-Down Conversation Prior to High School

Going from junior high to high school introduces a tremendous amount of change and exposure to new levels of challenges and risks.  Because of this, we had a face-to-face conversation some time during the summer before entering high school with each of our girls.  In the best case, the adolescent will heed some of the advice.  In the worst case, they will ignore the advice but later find at least some of it to be truthful, which gives more credibility to later advice.  We created a cheat sheet of issues to discuss, including the following topics:

  • Grades
  • Peer pressure
  • Curfew
  • Penalty free ride home (see related blog post)
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Boys and dating
  • Sex
  • Sexual abuse

The tone of the discussion should be advisory rather than dictatorial, in my opinion.  And you obviously will need to add notes to each category based on your standards, your parenting style and your advice.  There are three objectives of this discussion:

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Father – Son/Daughter Getaways

The title says “father” only because I’m writing this post from my perspective and incorporating actual concepts I used with my daughters.  My original objective was to somehow compensate for years of job assignments that called for extensive travel.  I actually modified an idea one of my IBM bosses used with his kids to compensate for extensive business travel.  The extra bonding I was able to achieve with my daughters and the stories we both are able to tell forever have immeasurable value.  I’ve shared this idea with friends and co-workers, many of whom have adopted or modified it for their own use.  If you also like the idea, help me spread it to others.

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Sticking to the Important Stuff (Teen Years)

Especially once the kids get into high school, there will be tons of things you will see them doing wrong.  From not waking up to their alarm to the way they handle social relationships, you will find yourself wanting to just tell them exactly what to do.  But often this will just cause them to reject your directions.  And it’s generally agreed that one of the best ways to learn is by making your own mistakes.  During high school I told my daughters that I didn’t care when they woke up on school days so long as putting on makeup was the last thing they did.  If they ran out of time and had to leave for school it meant without makeup.

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Establishing Standards (if Have Multiple Kids)

One of the things we quickly realized is how easily a precedent can be set as a result of decisions made or rules put in place for the oldest child.  This is fairly obvious for anyone that grew up in a family with multiple children, but we found that we had to really step back and think about things not only from the perspective of the decision at hand, but also the possible precedent-setting value it might have for the younger siblings.  For girls, it includes things like wearing makeup, dating and allowing boys in their room.

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Establishing a Special Parent-Child Activity

This idea is for families with multiple children.  I didn’t invent the idea but can’t remember how I learned of it.  The premise is that each child should have some activity that is special and unique with each parent.  I’ll speak from the father’s perspective but it works in parallel with the mother.  It’s also possible/likely that the special activity will change once or twice as the child ages.

I’ve discovered a couple of things that are important to consider while putting this into place:

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Once Your Teenager Gets a Car …

What a liberating freedom.  I guess I have one heads-up and a couple of pieces of advice.  The heads-up is to forget about seeing them very much after they start driving.  There will be a million reasons why they need to be somewhere else.  We had to set a “goal” of eating together as a full family 4 times per week, yet we’re sometimes lucky to make it happen 2-3 nights.  Part of this is due to the fact that a driving teen also possibly has a job, club memberships or sporting activities in addition to all the social possibilities that pull them away from home.

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