Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Why I will no longer apologise for being proud of my children

Photo credit - msegura

Last week was Parents Evening, and I'm pleased to report it was all good for both children. Very good, in fact. I mentioned it on Twitter but I held back from blogging about it, until now.

I put it on my Facebook status and then I saw someone tweeting about how they hate all the smug updates about how everyone's little darlings are doing so well at such times, and that not all the children can't ALL be nice and polite. It niggled. First, because it intimated that teachers issue platitudes they don't really believe, and secondly, it suggested that it was wrong to be proud of our children.

The main reason I put it on Facebook is that it is the main way we keep up to date with family. We have family spread from Cumbria to Devon, plus another that spends half his time abroad. We have friends around the world who know my kids and like to hear how they are getting on. I'm sorry if that's wrong but if I didn't put it on my status, I'd have to type it out several times over.

I know the teachers were genuine in their praise when we went. It rather astonishes me that Monkey's teacher cannot say a bad word about him. She gave him As for effort rather than A*s because she wants him to keep trying and told us "Really, he's excellent (but don't tell him I said that!)". I knew he had done well in his reading test because she told me a month ago that he had come top of the class in a very hard reading test, having only got one question wrong. Missy Woo's teacher was honest with us too - and said her only fault was she could get a little too chatty if she sat next to the wrong person, but that she was always mortified if teacher had to have a word with her.The children they spoke of were recognisable as my children, albeit the immaculately behaved version they reserve for school hours.

These teachers weren't lying. I would know if they were and I'm certainly not lying either.Yes, they are good kids but they are not angels; they are just normal kids who have their moments, and thankfully, the good outweighs the bad. Both children are already at, or beyond, where they are expected to be by the end of the school year. Their teachers expect they will move up further during the next term - Monkey's teacher expects his reading to be that expected of a child finishing Year 4. He's in Year 2. Missy Woo is expected to be at the standard of a child in Year 2, a full year ahead of herself. Those facts blew me away. In fact, it still does.

But why is it wrong to be proud of this? They have both worked hard and tried their best in class and know we expect that of them. We do not push them, we encourage them - we read with them and do spellings as requested by school but the rest of the time anything we do with them is spontaneous. Why can't I be proud that they both try their best and are progressing so well? That they both love to read, to write and to add up? That they both love learning?

I accept there is a fine line between pride and boastfulness. When the children were babies, I avoided the Baby Olympics. I was open-mouthed when some parents were displeased that a friend's baby was ahead of theirs. One even told me she was worried her daughter wasn't walking - she wasn't even a year old. And yes, I talk about my kids, but never in a my-child-is-better-than-yours kind of way - they're just different, with their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses.

My children are my life. Their care and upbringing takes up the most time in my daily routine and it's been that way for the last 7 years. I think we've done a good job so far. If I can't be proud of that, what can I be proud of? I've had enough -  I am reserving the right to speak up when there is good news to report. From now on, I'm going to be a proud mummy and be unapologetic about tt. I won't bang on about my children endlessly but I will celebrate their achievements. I want my children to know that I am proud of them (which they do, I hope) but I want them to know it's OK to be proud in a gracious way, especially when it is something they have worked hard for.

I want other parents to join me, to demonstrate that pride in your children is a good thing. I've even made a badge to display on your blog, to show that you are proud and don't feel the need to apologise for that. Feel free to grab the code to do so, to put on a post or a sidebar. I'd love to know what you think about it, either in the comments or in your own post - what makes you proud about your kids? How have they made you proud recently? Is parental pride a good thing and when is it ever bad? If enough people write in response to this, I'll open a linky but I won't if there isn't a demand for it.

Proud Parents Club

Let's show everyone we are proud of our kids - we've spent ages growing and nurturing them, we have every right to be. In doing this, I'm hoping our kids learn pride in themselves - how to experience it and handle it, without losing friends over it. Mostly, I just want them to know people ARE proud of them because, God knows, children and young people take enough stick these days, and not a lot of it is justified.
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