Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why All the Compliments?

I noticed something recently that made my head spin. Whenever people compliment my daughter, I always downplay what they say. If they say that she is smart, I say, yeah, she's doing okay. If they say that she is very agile or coordinated, I have to reply that she is slow and careful with how she plays at the park. If someone tells me that she is a pleasure to have around, I just sort of nod stupidly. And if somebody gushes over some cute or funny thing that she does, I feel kind of embarrassed.

When I noticed this, I began to wonder why I react this way, and I came up with the following idea. This is the way I would react if someone said these things about me. If someone said to me, "SS, I really like having you around. Knowing you has enriched my life tremedously", I would wonder why and how. I might say thank you, but I'd be more likely to say, "What?", or "Really, what do you mean?", or some other similar thing. Maybe I would cry. I feel that I can't take credit for my own successes (more on that later), and I really wonder why I should take credit for the miracle that is my daughter.

All of the things that people tell me are true and I never feel like denying what they say ("oh, no, really she's not such a pleasure, just wait 'till you get to know her better") - that would just be ridiculous, and is not how I feel. Of course, I think she's a treasure. But I wonder why people tell me these things. Is it supposed to make me feel more proud of her? Is it meant as a compliment to my parenting skills? Is it just an innocent, passing comment? I suspect that these comments are thrown out at me as some kind of compliment, and that makes me uncomfortable. I feel that most of the amazing things she does do not come from me. But on the other hand, children don't grow in a vacuum. They need to be nurtured. Her good qualities must come from somewhere (not all from my husband), and when she demonstrates them, they must be encouraged, or they will not develop.

I guess I'm just not a performer myself, and I'm not a stage mom either. I don't look for applause and accolades, at least not too much, and the idea of someone putting my daughter at center stage and watching her makes me squirm. I do it myself, but I'm her mother and I get nachas from it. Why should someone else be getting nachas from my daughter? Then again, why not?


At 6:54 AM, Blogger Elie said...

I think it's a good character trait to be uncomfortable with excessive praise and compliments, whether about oneself or even one's children. It's part of being a bayshan, a bashful person, which is supposed to have been a characteristic Jewish trait. One that weve mostly lost, as I have recently written.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

when I was younger..I also didnt like compliment..
I dont think complimens have anything to do with accomplishments. If you're beautiful and get complimented for it..you had nothing to do with it..yet it can still boost your confidence. I think more than anything else...its a confidence booster. If I were to sing..write..draw..and not get any feedback...it would be terrible..and make it so hard...


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