Compliments will NOT hurt your child: My response to a new parenting trend

I never say something after reading one article about a topic– or even two. I usually don’t even touch it if it seems to be a minority opinion that carries little weight. But this article right here was the article that broke the camel’s back and opened the flood gates to my blog. Big surprise there 😉

I’ve already counted about ten writers who have written on the subject of praise and compliments toward children and everything I’ve read has the same opinion. Compliments, they say, can hold a child back. Saying “You’re so smart with math!” can make a child put less effort into that subject. Saying “Wow you look pretty!” can make a child feel that all they’re worth is what they look like.

Yes, you’ve probably guessed it. About right now I’m rolling my eyes.

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And that’s because this new trendy parenting technique is bogus.

No, I’m not a mom yet and many people would probably tell me I don’t have any room to talk or to give pointers. That’s a fair statement, I suppose, but seeing as how I was once a child and I lead a group of children at church and I did my fair share of child rearing with my little sister growing up and my classroom-size of nieces and nephews I have a teeny bit of room to share my thoughts. So here we go.

Don’t follow the trend. Compliment your child for GOODNESS sake. It won’t kill them. It won’t make them toss aside their interests. It won’t make them turn to a life of drugs or sex. It will only let them know they are appreciated and loved and NOTICED. And that has never been unhealthy. It will never be a bad thing to point out a talent, to compliment a new pretty Easter dress, or to spend the car ride home after soccer practice letting your boy know that his kicks are getting so darn good. It has never hurt and frankly never will.

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My favorite part of my growing up was my parents’ ability to always share what they loved about us. My dad would mention how good my reading was and in turn I devoured every book and wanted to be a BETTER reader for him. My mom would tell me how pretty I was and I decided that yes, I was. And so when middle school came and someone said otherwise I didn’t believe it. My grandma, I remember, would sit with me as I wrote stories in my notepad, and she told me I was her favorite writer. And I’ve never stopped writing. I also never let anyone deter me.

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The compliments, some of these articles state, should simply be tailored. Instead of my parents telling me what a great writer I am the writers claim that they should have made a comment about how much effort I put into my writing instead and what a great ambition that is. That’s ridiculous, to put it mildly.

Your kid will never die from kind words. No one ever will.

Compliments in excess, I’ve seen, can harm a child. I’ll admit to that. We should never build children made of egos, entitlement, or pride that makes them peer down their noses at other children. But our words should be crafted to urge them on in their passions and to help mold and shape the self-esteem and confidence that they’ll carry for the rest of their lives.

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Well, there have been studies, Kayla, you might say. It’s right there in black and white that children shrink away from talents and responsibility or feel self-conscious when you compliment or praise them.

And it’s true I’m no psychologist. But what I DO know is that when I tell my neice Rachel that her fiery red hair is the prettiest color I’ve ever seen she tends to glow. When I tell my primary kids that they are amazing listeners, they tend to listen more intently.

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Kids are impressionable, vulnerable spirits that need to be molded and formed in one way or another. The world will try to form them, at some point, when you aren’t looking. The world tell your child she’s fat. The world will tell your boy he runs like a girl or is too skinny to have girls like him. The world will tell our kids that they’re dumb or slow or not as good as the others. They will hear enough from the world.

They need to hear from us first.

And that needs to sound beautiful.

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Living with endometriosis: The lessons in waiting- Part I

Today I got the bad news.

The diagnosis was Endometriosis. And it sucked to hear.

I wish there was a prettier way of putting it–a more eloquent way of describing to you how it felt to hear the doctor say it. But there isn’t. It just plain sucked.

I’m not keeping a blog to just document the squeaky-clean pretty parts of our life together as a young family. I’m keeping a blog called ALL our Lemmony things. And this is part of it. The big, painful, why-is-life-so hard trials. *Big surprise, huh?*

I had a feeling something was wrong way back when we started trying for a baby. I don’t know why, but if you’re reading this (and you’re a woman) you probably know what I mean by somehow just knowing when something is off. For me, the red flags were everywhere, including excruciating cramps that even landed me in the hospital at one point. I seriously thought I was going to die. Or give birth. But I wasn’t pregnant, so I had all bets on that first one.

That, and so many other red flags (irregular cycles, abdominal pain, headaches) were things I pushed to the back burner because I was focused on having a baby. And by golly, nothing was going to stop me.

Until today.

My legs hung over the high examination table, hands wringing together nervously while the doctor took off his glasses and looked me straight in the eye. He didn’t dance around the subject, but the soft tone of his voice–the kind of voice that people use at funerals or during break ups– scared me more than anything. He told me that it’s clear to him that I have a severe case of Endometriosis. He said a few times he isn’t saying I can’t have kids. It’ll just be much harder and it might take weeks…months…or years…of fertility treatments and visits to specialists. There’s no saying what kind of timeframe it’ll be.

I instantly felt like a broken woman.

This isn’t meant to insult or hurt those who were diagnosed with this same thing. Actually, this is just my way of connecting to those women who might know exactly how it feels to stare into a doctor’s eyes and try not to cry. Maybe someone out there (I just know it) knows how it feels to get angry with life, upset at her own body, and grief-stricken for a faceless, unborn child all at the same time. Maybe that woman has made it through. Maybe she’s still waiting. Maybe she has it MUCH worse than me and knows for a fact that she can’t bear children at all. Maybe she’s exactly where I’m at. I don’t know.

But in that moment, on the table, swallowing down tears, all I know is I felt alone.

All my life I’ve been able to do anything I set my mind to. But this one thing. This thing that a woman should be able to do. That one thing is going to be hard for me to do at best. I asked the doctor several times if it’s my fault or if I’ve done something to cause this. But he said women who have Endometriosis have had it since inside the womb. That was another dagger. All my life I’ve had this condition, this hindrance to bringing spirit children into the world, and I had no idea? Why me? Such a selfish question loaded with a million unanswerable components, but it still came to mind over and over.

But in the back of my mind, I kept reminding myself of the truthfulness of the gospel. The promises of the Lord. The loving ways of God.

I know I’m going to have children someday. I feel them and I already know their names (luckily Matt helped me with most and agreed on the ones I pre-planned 😉 )  I know that this is a trial that I was given to face and that there can be lessons in waiting. And that someday when I hold my baby–no matter if it’s a year from now or seven years from now–it’ll feel worth it.

But right now, my perspective doesn’t reach that far. I see the exam table. My pink toes dangling off it. My blurred vision because of tears. And my empty, unable-to-work-correctly stomach. But I’m trying to look beyond. There is a lesson in all things–an eternal principle I’m going to have to learn. Who knows? Maybe that lesson will be something I need to pass down to my children someday when they’re waiting for something they yearn for just as much as I yearned for them.

Questions, so many questions.

But for now, I find solace in my sweet husband who makes me laugh so the tears can dry, who genuinely knows that he’ll be a dad, and who reminds me that some blessings come soon and some come late, but they’ll always come (That statement was originally from this talk by Elder Holland by the way–he’s awesome) For now I find solace in my big family on both mine and Matt’s side, and my friends who comfort me from hundreds of miles away through texts and phone calls. I find solace in our blog, where I can connect with other sisters in waiting–or sisters who live lives filled with trials of their own, but they simply don’t give up.

I hope to be one of those.