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Do You Approve, Mom?

Posted by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM
  • 47 Replies

In The New York Times' Bestselling book Kitchen Table Wisdom, (©1996) the author, Rachel Naomi Remen M.D., wrote: "The life in us is diminished by judgment. Our own self-judgment or the judgment of others... Judgment does not only take the form of criticism. Approval is also a form of judgment.... It can be withdrawn at any time no matter what our track record has been. It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy. Yet many of us spend our lives pursuing it."

According to this wisdom, which I find really eye-opening as a mom, constantly giving a kid approval can be as stress provoking as cutting them down. Making a child feel that they need to constantly earn your approval to be a "good" person is really hard on them. It can make them feel that who they really are, as an individual, is not "good" enough. In fact, it can make their whole focus in life become one of gaining approval. From parents, from teachers, from friends and even strangers. And that is not a nice way to live, nor does it foster self-confidence in any way.

If someone said to you, today: "You did not cook that tuna casserole properly. Make it exactly as I tell you to. Then I'll tell you that you did a good job," you would probably tell them to get lost (I would, at least). But isn't this kind of what we are telling our kids, when we say things like "don't do x that, way; THIS the way to do it"? Sure, our children need to be shown how to tie shoes and brush teeth the "right" way when they are little. They need to be taught how to be respectful and behave and listen to others, too. But once they are approaching teen-age, and have mastered basic social, safety, health and hygiene skills, maybe we are not doing them a favor by constantly approving (or not) of every thing they do. Maybe we are pushing them into become people-pleasers, and to feel judged and in need of others' approval to feel secure and confident, instead of teaching them to find their own way, their own inner strength, and their own individuality and unique way of living their lives.

So unless you are helping your daughter with math homework, when there really is only one right answer, the next time she asks you if she's doing something right, or is looking for your approval or someone's approval, give her a break from trying to please others and trying to be whoever she thinks others want her to be, and help her to just be the best her she can be, to love who she is, and how she does things. Encourage her to make up her own version of tuna casserole, in other words, and let her know how proud you are of who she is, as an individual and wonderfully unique girl.

Do your daughters seek approval often, and could you help them gain confidence by encouraging their individuality more?


by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 7:49 AM
1 mom liked this

They do not, and that is a good thing.  They ask for advice but I think they know they have my approval on many levels without asking for it.  I try not to be too hard on them about things.  If they need to be told otherwise, I do tell them, but in a way that isn't belittling their efforts.

by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 8:55 AM
1 mom liked this

My dd only seeks approval on home projects she works on. I always tell her she did a great job.

by Member on Sep. 9, 2013 at 9:16 AM

My daughter is two and a half, and she is a pretty individual person already. She likes what shes likes, does what makes her happy.

by Member on Sep. 9, 2013 at 9:33 AM

I can see that I need to be more sensitive to giving approval.

by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 10:16 AM
1 mom liked this

My oldest seems to seek approval more than my youngest and he has issues with depression.  We are working with them both to help them be as individual as possible.

by Member on Sep. 9, 2013 at 10:38 AM

If everyone has, said or did things the same way, life would be boring. (I always said this to my son, when he asked for the same things some other kid had!)

by Sue on Sep. 9, 2013 at 11:20 AM
1 mom liked this

I think that to encourage, one must push only so much. If you know their skill level and know that they are trying, that is what is important.

by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

My girls know that they are loved.  They are very confident ladies, and they don't seek approval very often because of that. 

by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM
1 mom liked this

They don't publicly announce it no, but I do recognize when they need individuality.

by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 12:42 PM
1 mom liked this

 My DD doesn't seek approval often but she does seek it. I do my best to encourage her. She wants to be a writer and writes short stories and poems often.

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