What’s the best compliment a parent can receive about their kids?

Posted by Samantha on November 15, 2011 in Discipline, Happiness, Hope, Love |

Not perfect, just happy

I read a story online recently where British actress Kate Winslet shared about how she was recently complimented by a fellow traveller about how well-behaved her children were on an airplane.

She went on to say how she loved when strangers commented in this way on how nicely behaved her children were.

I really understand that sense of pleasure and accomplishment you get when someone you don’t know (or indeed someone you do know) pays you a compliment about your children.  It can be a real boost to hear something positive about your kids.

Afterall, parenting is not a career known for its high status and regular salary increases.  So a little appreciation can go a long way.

But I was thinking about this tendency people have to comment on our children’s behaviour.  And even more so, to compliment parents for what is perceived as good behaviour on the part of their children.

Inevitably, when people say that children are well-behaved they mean that they are quiet and unassuming and generally not causing any adults to be inconvenienced in their adult pursuits.

And there is no doubt that for children to behave in this approved-of way, particularly younger boys and girls with higher than average energy levels, takes a lot of effort and willingness on the child’s part.

But is it necessarily “good” that children behave like this?

I recall when a close friend of mine paid me a compliment after a pub-lunch for his birthday.  The lunch was attended by numerous adults, a handful of very small babies and my two small children (around 2 and 4 at the time).

My friend, who was not a parent then, but who has worked extensively with children and teenagers, said something I will never forget as we left the pub that day.

My children, he said, seemed very happy.

I remember feeling surprised and very, very pleased.  And I recall commenting afterwards to my husband how this was such a lovely thing to hear, which reflected my friends’ real understanding of children and what is truly important in life.

So many people say they just want their children to be happy.

And so I ask, which would you rather hear: that your children are very well-behaved or that your children seem very happy?



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