I’m Not Proud of You.
I’ll admit that this was a difficult concept for me to entertain or employ when I was first introduced to eliminating praise in my relationship with my kids by Alfie Kohn’s article Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good job!” If you haven’t read it, I’d encourage you to start there. But I’d like to take it one step further.
I want to talk about pride – the use of the word, the sentiment, all of it. I see bumper stickers (all.the.time.) as I’m driving that say, “I’m proud of my hockey playing, honor student, pure bred pug, cheer leader, blah, blah, blah.” You get the picture. And I am always disconcerted by this public display of a sentiment that feels like the antithesis of freedom, responsibility, and independence. When I think of ‘pride,’ there are three issues that come to mind for me:
1. I am immediately reminded of Alfie Kohn’s book Punished by Rewards. Is pride not a reward that affects the future behavior of our hockey player, student, (maybe not) pug, or cheerleader such that they are no longer making decisions based on their personal desires but rather on the response of those around them? My parents are proud. That feels good. I want more of that. Rewards are equally as dangerous as punishments as far as coercive, manipulative tools that impact how people feel about themselves and whether they will fulfill their passions or simply become a working piece in the grand machine. I definitely think a great many people are well aware of this effect and using it to its fullest. I find it detrimental to the individual.
2. What right do we have to feel pride for another’s accomplishments? Dictionary.com gives the definition of pride: “pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself.” Exactly. I have never once seen a bumper sticker reading, “I’m proud of myself.” It’s absolutely obscene to me that we should take credit for the actions or characteristics of another human being. Why? Because in allowing yourself this sense of pride, you have taken credit for a piece of that accomplishment and taken it away from that other person. It could not have happened without me. You could not have done this without me. I am such a splendid mom, dad, grandparent that you have been able to do something you may not ordinarily have been able to do.
Which leads me to number 3….
3. Feeling proud of your child because they’ve achieved some accomplishment, play a sport, eat nutritious food, or whatever indicates that you would not have ordinarily expected them to be able to do this. They have somehow done something that is beyond the ordinary. The truth is that we’re all amazing and we’re all ordinary. Amazing is the new ordinary if we recognize and revel in the beauty of each individual-for them, not for us.
I too have very strong feelings about the use of this word – and the feeling I get whenever I hear it used in relation to another is nausea.
I have such a hard time keeping my mouth shut when someone says about one of my children, ‘aren’t you proud?’ or ‘you must be so proud.’ When the nausea ends, I want to scream. NO! I don’t feel pride in my children’s actions or accomplishments!
I feel joyous contentment that my children are living their lives on their terms, WITH NO REGARD for whether their mother will approve or disapprove, agree or disagree -and it’s not just because they are all adults; it was true when they were wee children. I feel happily alive and fulfilled knowing that they are each capable of discerning their own right from wrong (yes! the youngest children know this because when given the freedom to feel what is right, they do), tuning into and fine tuning their own always changing inner guidance systems, becoming increasingly powerful with each day, as they move toward the unique things that feel true and right for them, living with maximum respect for what calls to them from the deepest recesses of their hearts and minds.
I trust this. I trust myself to create a life for myself based on these principles. I don’t owe anyone anything and my children owe me nothing. NOTHING. We choose our thoughts and actions as a function of what feels good and true and powerful. We choose to treat ourselves and each other with respect and integrity and unconditional love because we have a created a very conscious life that supports this.
Check out our websites and sign up for your FREE subscription to one or ALL of our THREE magazines!
Have you shown us some LIKE? Each magazine has its own Facebook page: