It’s really important for husbands and wives to praise each other in their job of parenting. We all need praise for our skills and hard work and to build up our parenting self-esteem. Your children value what you do even though they may not say “thanks” too often. If they see each parenting partner praise the other, so will they.
When parents support and encourage one another, it strengthens their relationship. It builds the parenting and marital bond. Parenting can often be a thankless job, so it helps to make a conscious effort to change that in your home.
The other day I watched some parents at a park. They were playing in the sand box with their kids building forts and sand castles. I noticed the mother pat the father on the back and say, “Hey, good job!” He smiled and felt her encouragement in his parenting. His kid looked on and said, “Yeah, Dad. This is really fun.”
This was a wonderful opportunity for this child to hear his parents praise each other and follow up in kind. It’s the kind of thing that may go hardly noticed, but it’s of great value nonetheless.
I saw a mother at a bus stop sending her young child off to camp for the first day. The little boy held back the tears in his eyes and said, “How do I know where to sit on the bus?” The mother kindly gave him a hug and said, “Take any seat that’s empty next to another kid.” The boy heaved a sigh of relief and let go of his mother’s hand and climbed the steps into the bus. The father looking on said to his wife, “Good going. He’ll be fine. He just needed a little encouragement.” The mother wiped the tear from her eye and said, “Thanks for your encouragement. I wasn’t sure how much to say, but didn’t want to make a scene and yet give him some confidence.” “You did just that,” said the dad as they walked away hand in hand.
How many times in a day do you see your partner do just the right thing with your child? Maybe you observe your partner give your child a boost when needed, spend an extra few minutes listening, read a book, or whatever brings pleasure to the parent-child relationship. The moment of noting your positive observation brings not only joy to your partner, but builds a parenting self-image that we all need to support more often than we might imagine. It’s easy for self-doubt and fear to creep into your parenting.
Hearing words of praise and encouragement nourish the parenting soul and give you the energy to keep remembering you’re doing a good job. There are so many times when you falter, lose your cool, and feel confused and guilty. It’s important to not make those the times you remember most.
Laurie Hollman,Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. It’s an enlightening book that will boost your confidence as a parent.