What do you need to say? – Day 84

August 24, 2010 2 Comments



365 Days to a Balanced Life Journey – Day 84


Quote of the Day

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” – G.B. Stern

I grew up in a house crowded with testosterone.  I had 4 brothers, no sisters and of course a traditional mother (stay at home) and father (very chauvinistic).  My parents both believed that “women’s work” was not to be done by the men in the family.  This translates into the men in my family getting a free ride (believe me the men in my life have paid for this)!  Being the fair minded, independent spirit that I am, I felt that it was not right to expect me to do the dishes and other housework if the boys didn’t.  As a result, my long suffering mother was left to care for the house and family with very little help from the rest of us.  Guilty as I felt, I wanted equal rights.  Of course there was no criticism of the boys if they didn’t do the dishes, only of me.  This seemed to be the pattern of our household.

Like a lot of parents, mine were not big on praise but they sure could communicate what they didn’t like about us.  Please don’t get me wrong, I love my parents dearly.  They were wonderful in many ways but frankly they lacked some basic parenting skills.  I remember my mother laughing at me because I read parenting books.  “You can’t parent from a book” she would say.  The classic was when she criticized me for praising my two year old son.  She warned me that I would give him a “big head”.  I respectfully restrained myself from responding “Of course we wouldn’t want him to grow up with any self esteem would we?”  Back then contemporary wisdom was that parents believed that by withholding praise they would “strengthen” the child. 

Even with early success in my life, I remember feeling insecure about myself and the choices I made because I did not get validation from Mom and Dad on many if any issues (sadly this lasted into my thirties when I decided that I could feel good about myself with or without their validation).  I also remember hurting even more when they told me how great each of my brothers was. In private conversations they would sing the praises of one brother or another without having any understanding how it made each of us feel.  Not only about ourselves but about each other.  This set up a sibling rivalry that still exists today.

Finally about 5 years ago I said to one of my brothers “I’m sick and tired of hearing how great you are!”  “Me?” he replied “I’m sick and tired of hearing how great YOU are”.

I was dumbfounded; could it be that my parents actually were proud of me?  What I came to realize is that Mom and Dad were immensely proud of all of us they just did not seem to understand the need we all had to hear it. 

Like everyone, I vowed that I would never make the mistakes my parents did.  Yet truth be told I do tend to criticize more than praise.  In fairness to myself, I do praise and let my kids know how proud I am although not to the degree I should. I also tend to sing the praises of the child that is absent.  This came to my attention recently when one of my children said to me that they were surprised to find out that their sibling was NOT my favorite child.  This poor child had truly lived with the idea that I actually favored one over the other.  Did I learn nothing from my childhood??????

I also don’t believe I say thank you enough to them (or my husband).  Lately I have been trying to make a point of saying thank you more to everyone.  It is amazing the impact of those two little words.   In fact, I do believe it was my son who taught me that.  So, thank you Russ.

The third thing that we all don’t say enough but should is “I’m Sorry”.  Sadly, I do not ever recall either of my parents saying those words, even when they were clearly in the wrong.  As a result I have had a hard time apologising at times in my life.  I always thought it made me look weaker if I said it when as we know it is the opposite that is true. 

As part of my 365 Days to a Balanced Life Journey, I am trying to apologize more, say thank you often and heap sincere praise on those around me.  I must be doing something right though because all my kids have no problem saying these things. :)

What do your loved ones need to hear from you?

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2 Comments to “What do you need to say? – Day 84”
  1. […] To read the article click on the above title and then again on here                                                […]

  2. John Bowron says:

    Great commentary, Roneen. Recognition and appreciation certainly are the drivers of positive reaction. John B.

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