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Go Ahead: Brag A Little

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By: Cody Harris   |   April 14, 2022

Complaining about our kids is a time-honored parental tradition. Get some parents together and it won’t take long for the (very valid) complaints to surface. The kids won’t do their homework. The kids won’t clean up after themselves. The kids won’t stop bickering. The kids won’t share. The kids threw their shoes on the roof. Again. The kids won’t sleep through the night. The kids want to quit their new activity after begging to start it. And so on. There are countless blog posts and Instagram accounts devoted to sharing the frustration and aggravations that inevitably accompany parenting. 

That’s as it should be—venting about the lows of parenting keeps us sane, gives us something to laugh about, and is a parental pastime. 

But what about the highs? What about the pride, the joys, the delight, and the amazement that is just as much a part of parenting as the annoyance, exhaustion, and exasperation? We tend to keep those to ourselves. It’s totally normal to complain about our kids. But bragging about them is generally a no-no. 

It makes sense. No one likes a braggart. A parent who runs around telling everyone about their kid’s accomplishments would probably raise a few eyebrows. 

But is there a middle ground? Can we normalize sharing the ups of parenting as well as the downs? 

There’s a Yiddish word that comes to mind: kvelling. It’s sort of a cousin of bragging, but without the negative chest-puffing aspect that defines a brag. Kvelling is an expression of pride, love, and delight and is typically received as such. Kvelling about your kid, if done in moderation, is just fine. In fact, it’s a parent’s duty. 

If it takes a village to raise a child, then the village should know about the good as well as the bad, the triumphs as well as the challenges, the accomplishments and honors as well as the pitfalls and errors. I want to hear about your kid’s victories and awards. I want to hear about how she aced her math test or how he got a good part in the school play. I want to hear about how she mastered a new song on piano or how he turned a nifty double play at second base. I want to hear about how he was kind to his brother or how she stood up for someone who needed it.

OK, I’ll go first. The other day I convinced my two boys (ages 9 and 10) to get on their bikes and do a pretty decent climb up into the Tam watershed with me. We rode past Phoenix Lake, up Eldridge Grade, around Lake Lagunitas, back down to Five Corners, and all the way back home. 16 miles and 1500 feet of climbing, with minimal complaining and a lot of hard work. I was super proud of them, and they were proud of themselves. Also, my two-year-old daughter is becoming quite the artist. The other day she drew a nice little circle and started working on smiley faces. 

We refrain from sharing these sorts of accolades because we’re worried about appearing vain or superior. But within a community, sharing the ups will take the edge off the downs. 

I mean, don’t go overboard or anything. But a little more kvelling could help to raise our spirits, bring us together, and lift our children up in our eyes and in each other’s. 

Cody Harris lives in Marin with his wife, Rebecca. They have two boys and aspiring big leaguers, Emmett and Levi, and a 16-month old daughter, Annanit. When they’re not cheering from the stands, Cody’s a litigator and Rebecca is an RN and Lactation Consultant.
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April is for Tools Read >>

Book Picks: Easter and Passover Books Read >> 

Go Ahead: Brag A Little Read >>

Gracing New Beginnings Read >> 

Internal Beginnings Read >> 

Meet the 2022-2023 SMMC Board Read >> 

Meet Wendy Xa, Head of School at Terra Schools Read >> 

Mindfulness in the Making: April's Full? Read >>