I grew up in a good home with great parents and 9 brothers and sisters. But despite all the love, it felt like we were in competition rather than on the same team. It didn’t feel like there were many kudos or celebrations of greatness. I felt like I had to keep every accomplishment under-estimated so as not to hurt another siblings feelings.
And it didn’t help that my dad’s idea of a compliment was “You don’t sweat much for a fat girl.”
I wanted a different environment in my home with my husband and kids. I wanted a place where we were excited for each other; where we celebrated successes; where we felt comfortable bragging to our family, and where we were each others’ biggest cheerleaders and support.
So I came up with the idea of Share Bear.
We pass around a stuffed bear on Family Night and when you get the bear you can either SHARE a talent, good news, or a compliment. Hence the name, SHARE BEAR.
Talent is sometimes Elle playing a song she learned in piano that week or Crew reading a story he wrote. Often it is Croft just dancing to random piano music. Last night it was Locke giving every one a kiss and us clapping afterward. This is a time for kids to share their interests with their family and have a stage to shine.
Good news is anything from “I aced my spelling test!” to “I got a sale today!” to “I nailed my blog post today!” to “I played with my best friend all day!” We get to brag to each other and celebrate successes.
Compliments are just that, compliments. Not back-handed ones or praise followed by criticism- just acknowledging each others’ strengths and improvements or saying thanks. Most of the compliments come from me or Chad at this point and we try to make sure that we compliment all the children at one time or another. I love to see my kids faces when we are praising them in front of everyone. I am hoping we get passed the “I want to compliment mom for a good dinner” phase and move into deeper more observant compliments from the children. But for now at least they are hearing what a real compliment sounds like, and they are getting comfortable giving and receiving them.
I like to think my family of origin has come a long way. Now we are proud of each others’ successes in music, business, academics, church and family. But I don’t want my kids to be in their 30s before they cheer each other on. Here’s to doing better when you know better!