Words by: Grace McLennan, transcriber
Parents: they raise us, teach us and act as our first bridge to the world we will one day discover. Whether it's nursery rhymes or bedtime stories, their every action moulds us into who we are as human beings. So why is it so often that parents manage to overlook themselves and how big of an achievement it is to do this? I believe this is because parenting is an inherently selfless act. Becoming a parent means completely altering the axis upon which your world turns, where you are no longer the centre. However, sometimes it’s necessary to divert from that course a little and give yourself some recognition because, otherwise, that effort may go unnoticed.
I mean sure, your kids can say “thank you” and “I love you”, but true recognition of your efforts and sacrifices probably won’t come until they’re older and can truly appreciate how much you’ve done for them. However, in the meantime it’s important to realise just what you as parents have accomplished, as the last few years have possibly been one of the hardest times to enter the journey of being a parent. You’ve provided stability whilst living through a time of global uncertainty, and due to quarantines and isolations have been tackling this without as much support. On top of this add changing work environments and home-schooling, really demonstrating to the world a testament of just how strong and resilient all of you were and are every day.
So, to try and honour this spirit of recognising and giving yourself some credit, we asked parents who participated in our post-study interviews to tell us something that makes them proud as a parent. The very first thing I noticed reading this was just how taken aback most parents were by this question. Between nervous chuckles or contemplative silences, it became very apparent that most parents had never been asked this or even considered it before. However, once the initial shock wore off, answers seemed to fall within a few categories.
Firstly—and probably quite predictably—lots of answers centred around milestones for their child. Whilst parents never took credit for these achievements, milestones like learning to walk and talk seemed to be a recognisable indication that the parent is helping their child progress and are understandably proud of this. However, few truly acknowledged their fundamental role in the progression of these life events.
“He is I think ahead of the curve on things like color, like knowing the words for colors, like counting. He knows all of his letters. He's starting to work on like pre-literacy stuff […] Even though I suspect that has more to do with his preschool teachers. I mean, that's still something I'm like, well like my kid’s ahead of the curve there, that feels good.”
Similarly, we noticed the theme of external validations being mentioned, where teachers and others positive evaluations of the child were mentioned as something to be proud of. Although, this still seemed to be focused on shifting the praise off of themselves and truly seeing the things that they have done to make that child into the person those teachers are complimenting.
“I guess, a lot of his teachers, like in the past two years they say he's like a really good boy and he has pretty good manners, but I don't think we thought it, I think they thought of that. He's like a very sweet very sweet person, it’s not something I can take credit for. I don't know where he got it from, but I don't feel like he got it from me.”
But less obviously and possibly most heart-warmingly, is how proud you as a set of parents are to be raising your kids as loving and nice people. When parents spoke about how affectionate and kind they are, the pride in their voices really shined through. It's really clear to see how much kindness and compassion you parents are raising this next generation with, because from what I’ve read and heard working on this project I think they and you are bringing a lot of positivity to this world.
“His interactions with his little brother are just heart melting, like he's so sweet and so kind and so interested in him.”
So parents, coming from someone’s kid myself, please give yourself a pat on the back, because we really do appreciate you and you’re doing a fantastic job!
When we asked parents what they were most proud of, here's what they said!*
Keeping my child fed and clothed, and making it through the day with no disasters.
Talking to my child a lot, taking his babble seriously, engaging with him where he is, knowing that children are worth talking to, letting him lead more.
Having patience and acceptance, reading books, being engaged.
That my child is bright and affectionate.
I am patient, give them options, have kept my job, and raise two kids.
I respect emotions and encourage them to be creative.
I am patient.
I like to have fun and invest time in activities that are cool.
I am resourceful.
I’m proud to be a mom, to be more selfless than I was before, to be a role model and a better person.
I’m proud that my child is sweet and kind with their sibling, and that they are ahead of the curve on academic things.
I am proud of how my child explores and becomes independent.
I am proud of promoting independence, reading to them, and acknowledging their feelings.
I am proud that my child is a good sweet person.
* edited for anonymity and/or clarity