I’ve long thought this topic, but Becky’s beautiful post recently brought it to the forefront again. The need for us to learn to take a compliment for the sake of our children.
Compliment (n): a polite expression of praise or admiration.
I realized years ago it’s hard to take a compliment. Not for everyone, I’m sure, but it is for many people. And it’s not always because we don’t think we’re worthy of a compliment or because we are being fake humble. It’s just hard to look someone else in the eye and say, “thanks.”
Even so, we need to learn to do it. It’s good for ourselves and good for our daughters (and sons too, okay, but I’m speaking from the perspective of a woman so I’m focusing on daughters here).
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1. It’s just honest.
There are times when I do something well and I know it. Not because I’m conceited but because it’s just the truth. Fobbing off those comments or answering with self-deprecation is really just sort of… well… lying. You actually spend a bit of time getting dressed today, then you go for a walk. Your neighbor says, “You look so nice today, girl!” Answering with “You’re just saying that because you can’t see me close up!” is a bit funny, but the truth is you do look nice.
There’s no need to pretend you don’t or act as though they are blind. You put in effort. You look good. Someone noticed. Thanks is enough.
2. It makes it easier to compliment others.
One of my dearest friends is Scottish. It wasn’t normal to freely compliment one another in her friendship circles, but when we were roomies (5 of us), we complimented each other all the time. She couldn’t take a compliment for the longest, but eventually she was giving and receiving positive praise all the time. If you have issues receiving compliments you’ll assume others do too and miss out on so many opportunities to bring encouragement to others.
3. It helps prevent image issues.
Please, for the sake of your girls, do not ever respond to a compliment or initiate a statement by mentioning you (a) hate your body, (2) think you’re fat, and (d) wish you looked like someone else. Honestly. Just don’t. What with all the Victoria’s Secret floor to ceiling supermodels and the oh-so-ridiculous butt cheek hanging out of Daisy Duke trend, your daughter will start noticing with society thinks is pretty soon enough.
When someone takes the time to compliment something about you, don’t turn it around and insult yourself in response. If your girls see you do this they will start doing the same. After all, some daughters didn’t know their mothers were fat, ugly, and horrible until she said so.
4. It’s okay to do things well.
Australia has a phenomenon called the tall poppy syndrome. A poppy is a flower, and this phenomenon basically says, any one flower that grows up taller than the rest needs its top lopped off. Meaning, don’t let anyone else feel too superior you better put them back in their place. I think that’s stupid. Really, it’s okay to do things well. If you keep a nice neat home and someone compliments you, just say thanks. You don’t have to say, “It usually looks like a bomb went off in here!” to make them feel better. Especially if it isn’t true.
If your food is out of this world and people rave about your recipe, just say “I’m glad you like it.” There’s no need for a “Oh it was just a good recipe. I’m crap in the kitchen.” This sends mixed signals to your kids and it’s far more effort.
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5. It’s insulting to deflect compliments.
I remember sitting at a table with 4 girls sometime after high school. We were talking generally then complimented one girl on her appearance. She proceeded to tell us we were wrong, and started complaining about how she’d gotten fat. She was, however, still wearing her Size 2 jeans. I looked around at the other girls at the table, all of us bigger than a Size 2, and thought how her inability to accept a compliment has now made us all a bit uncomfortable.
She may well have more body fat than last year, but if she thinks her size 2 frame is too big to be pretty then what must she think of the rest of us? Thank you would have been better. And I might not have ordered that $10 salad I didn’t really want.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
But just in case you’re scared…
We’re not in middle school anymore, okay? It’s unlikely someone will pay a compliment, you’ll accept it graciously, and they’ll come back with “Ha, psych! I really think you’re gross! Hahahah” while pointing a finger.
When someone takes the time and makes the effort to pay you a compliment, particularly if it’s your own child...
Even if you don’t think it’s true…
Especially if you don’t feel worthy of praise…
Take that compliment as a lifeline, look that person square in the eye, and say, “Thank you.”
It’s that easy.
Betty Hittenberger says
Thank you, Rachel, for all the good advice. I’m praying for my “daughter-in-love” to catch the vision and look up your blog. Is that the right term, “blog”? > I’m praying for you, especially your 5 sick kids! >