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Bragging

By Justine Dorton

Other people’s children. I read about them in the many magazines that show up at our home. I read about their amazing stories, their victories, their trials. Every month I read new ideas, new methods, and new tales of joy, happiness, sadness, pain, anger, and triumph. Everyone’s got one – a story that is. I have a story. I have a trove of stories to tell that are just as amazing and funny because they happened to me! And frankly, everyone needs to hear them. My mind shouts out for the amazing accomplishments of my children to be heard. My children are special, different from yours and cuter, better, and smarter. In my head I know all these things can’t possibly be true, and yet I still believe them. Why is that?

My kids are the most amazing, advanced, sophisticated, and well behaved children anywhere. Even if I don’t always believe it, and don’t always witness my children being amazing and sophisticated, I know I am the only one who can be my kids’ biggest cheerleader. There’s probably purpose in these feelings. I want my kids to know I see them that way. I want them to feel a desire to excel. I want them to feel they are important enough to excel. If I don’t believe in them, certainly no one else will. Oh, there are many people around my children that care for them and love them. But I am their mother. I am the one that sees all the embarrassing stuff. I am the one that really knows their weaknesses. If I can still believe in them, even after all is said and done, they’ll be able to believe in themselves.

So shouldn’t I spend a little time bragging? Shouldn’t everyone? Look at the dozens and dozens of magazines about parenting, all filled with cute, darling, funny, embarrassing, silly, and poignant stories about other peoples children. I have those stories! I want to shout. My children are smart! My children have overcome odds! My children do embarrassing things! And so I champion them once again.

My stories should be in magazines. My stories should fill libraries. My kids can do anything. Come on, share your stories. I want to hear them!

About Justine Dorton

Justine is a mother to five children, and has a husband lodged somewhere (probably in the den). She is not very fond of speaking of herself in third person.

20 thoughts on “Bragging”

  1. I'm not sure I want to spend time bragging. I don't want people to get only a negative view of my children but I also don't want to be dishonest in how I talk about them. Frankly, I don't trust a lot of those stories that I read in magazines. I know my childrens' inate strengths and weaknesses but both often seem too intimate to share. So, do I talk about my kids negatively and positively to other people? Yes. Am I often more willing to talk about the negative stuff vs. the positive? Yes. Should I change that? Yes. But should I brag? Hmmmm…I'm not sure.

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  2. Way to put a damper on the conversation, Maralise! 🙂

    I've been making a conscious effort to highlight my children's positive achievements in their presence.(I tend to focus on the negative.)

    One of my favorite stories happened recently to my daughter (the one "Golden Rest" is about). In Primary someone said something unkind. She came home crying. Of course, the Mommy claws wanted to come out. All week we discussed proper responses to unkind individuals and the importance of not letting others control us. Sunday arrived and I wanted to stay by her side and protect her but I had to teach my class.

    After church my daughter was beaming. At home we discussed privately. She had chosen to do something kind for the offender (not a possible response I had mentioned or even considered). She told me she had read a story in the "Friend" about returning good for evil and knew it was right. I was floored. I was very proud (in the good way) 🙂 .

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  3. Felicia, Great story!!! I love it when our kids ocassionally show they can feel and respond to the Spirit! You should write that story down, or have her write it down in her journal!

    And Mara, I'm not sure if I should brag or not, but sometimes, I just really want my kids to "catch" me telling someone else how great they are. I remember vividly hearing my mother tell some neighbor woman how talented I was at public speaking. Now, I don't know if I actually was talented at public speaking, but that memory has lingered with me now for 30 years! I want my kids to hear that they have strengths.

    I guess it is bragging, but there's got to be a way to do it so you lift up the child without sounding brash or offensive to other adults. hmmm.

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  4. I grew up with a mom who told me I could do anything. (well, just about!) And you know what? I believed her.

    I want my kid to think that. I caught myself saying, in front of him, "Drawing and art is not his strong point." I realized that even if this is true, if he heard me say that about him, he will never, ever even try to excel at art. And every kid deserves at least one person who thinks that everything about him is terrific.

    I've also learned not to say, "I love you. You're such a great kid." Somebody told me that sends a subtle message that your love in conditional, that you only love him because he's great, or good, or did something that pleased you. Instead, I end every bedtime routine with the words, "I love you. I'm so glad you are in my family. I'm so glad Heavenly Father sent you to me, because I just love having you around." That way, there's no condition, no pressure. He knows I just love him for being him.

    One night my son said, "Mom, I'm so glad Heavenly Father made you my mom."

    Music, sweet music.

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  5. Have you all read the book, Confronting the Myth of Self-Esteem by Ester Rasband? If not, I highly recommend it. It was published by Bookcraft in 1998. It may be out of print, but I'm sure you could still get it on amazon.com or desertbook.com.

    Rasband's basic premise is that the search for self-esteem will always be counterproductive and will never lead to happiness because self-esteem is the counterfeit of those genuine feelings of confidence and worth that can "wax strong" in the presence of God. She cautions against creating "compliment junkies" by constantly telling our children how wonderful they are in an attempt to build their self-esteem. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't voice our joy in them. Rasband tells of a conversation she had with a friend who said: "I know that I need to raise humble kids. But it's hard. My daughter is so intelligent, so beauiful, so acomplished. I just hate ignoring all that. My heart burst to tell her how proud I am of her."

    "Don't restrain yourself," [Rasband replied]. "Tell her. Tell her with all the fervor of your soul. Your pride is born of your love for her. Express it! By all means express it!"

    Then she goes on to distinguish between "rejoicing" (looking for ways to express your delight in your child) and "flattering" and between "joyful love" and "addictive praise."

    Anyway, it's a great book.

    I agree that we should let our kids catch us bragging about them (rejoicing in them) sometimes–especially if we're bragging about traits, choices, and behavior rather than about specific accomplishments ("I am so impressed by Patrick's discipline and passion for his instrument. I never have to remind him to practice." as opposed to "Patrick is the best saxophone player in the entire state. He has won 1st place in every competition he has ever entered.")

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  6. Interesting points, all.

    Sharlee, that sounds like a good book. I'll have to keep my eyes out for it.

    But folks, Justine asked, and I want to hear your stories!!!!! Funny stories, spiritual stories, humbling stories, tender stories.

    Here's one about another daughter. She is just becoming a proficient reader and loves to read the Book of Mormon. She "reads" about 40 pages a day. When she reports to me at night I frequently ask, "So what did you learn from what you read?" or "what happened in those passages?" The response is often a moment of silence and then, "Maybe I read a little too fast." 🙂

    Yesterday, though, when I asked she was ready! Mom my favorite part was 3 Nephi 11. I want Jesus to come.

    So do I. 🙂

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  7. I want more kid stories too.

    Here's one of mine. Last week I took my kids to story time at B and N. They came home with stickers promoting the new Charlotte's Web movie. My oldest peeled off the one that said "Radiant" and stuck it to my chest. "Thanks, honey," I told her, "I'd like to be radiant." And she replied, "Mom, you already are."

    Now if only I can teach the other 4 to lie that well!

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  8. Here's an actual quote from a holiday newsletter I received: "Our grandchildren are beautiful, excel at everything, and are growing rapidly." I guess you can talk like that if it's your grandchildren!

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  9. Okay, okay, so you want stories about kids!:-) Here's a couple of my favorites:

    When my son Devin blessed the food at lunchtime just before leaving for kindergarten, he prayed that he would see big-brother Patrick at recess. When I picked the kids up after school, Patrick mentioned that he had seen Devin at recess.

    "Just like you prayed for, Devin!" I said.

    "Yes, mommy," said Devin, very serious. "That's why they call him Jesus."

    * * * * *

    The prayer my daughter said on the night of her 4th birthday was one for the books and showed her already to be a master of "on second thought . . .":

    "Dear Heavenly Father," she said. "Today was my birthday. Please bless me to have my birthday everyday. (Pause) Well, not every day–else I would grow up too fast. But thank you for my birthday on this day. Oh, Heavenly Father, I love you and I want to live with you. (Pause, then quickly) But I don't want to die!"

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  10. Maybe the following are not exactly what Justine was looking for but it's my way of bragging about how cute and funny my kids are.

    After a lovely hour of painting, I was at the sink dumping water and cleaning paint brushes when I overheard my 3 year old second son identifying the colors in the paint strip. "Red it for stop," he said, "green is for go and yellow is for 'Hold on nelly-bell!'" It was then I realized that I needed to take a closer look at my driving habits!

    Then one time, when my oldest was between three and four years old, I was bragging to the sister missionaries (who were over for dinner) about how he loved to "read" the scriptures. Corbin refused to echo read, but insisted on having his own time to "expound" the gospel according to Corbin. The sisters wanted to hear some of this so they asked Corbin to "read" some scriptures. Corbin took the Book of Mormon and began. On and on he spoke about Jesus and the Nephites and the Lamanites and Alma and being bad. Then he said, "Then they saw a sign . . . (dramatic pause) . . . and it said "closed" so they all went home."

    Then there was the time my oldest insisted he wanted to say his prayer in spanish (although he had only taken Dora the Explorer 101). He was so insistent and I didn't want to fight about prayer so I said fine. Off he went, the gibberish pouring from his mouth. When he was done I thought I would be an incredibly sly, sneaky, and clever mom by asking him to to translate for me, thus getting a proper prayer out of him anyway. When I asked him to tell me what he had said Corbin looked at me with disgust and said, "I don't know! It was in Spanish!"

    Then there is the most recent one. My sister makes the BEST oatmeal cookies in the world! I asked for the recipe then make a big double batch. When Corbin got home from school the house was filled with the wonderful smell of baking cookies. I gave him one and enthused, "Corbin, have one of Aunt Sharlee's famous oatmeal cookies!" After a bite Corbin said ruefully, "Well Mom, they might look famous but they sure don't taste famous!" (disclaimer: my sister's cookies are truly delicious – I just can't seem to make them the same way)

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  11. You guys have me rolling on the floor laughing! I LOVE these stories!!! And indeed, have a trove of my own. Thanks for sharing!

    The Spanish story reminds me of my six year old who was singing lullaby songs to my baby, trying to calm him down. Nothiing seemed to be working and he continued to cry and cry. Isabel sang varied songs at varied decible levels, before exasperatedly stating, "Maybe he wants me to sing in Spanish"

    Bring on the gibberish. (That didn't work either, shockingly).

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  12. Great stories!!!!

    I had a good one this morning.

    Celeste (the 3 year old) loves to read the story "No, David" where David's Mom says No about everything, but at the end she says she loves him and gives him a big hug. We always talk about how Mommy's and Daddy's still love us even when we make mistakes.

    Well this morning, after being warned not to eat in the family room, she dumped a huge bowl of shredded wheat (in milk so it was all goopy) on the floor. As she tried to help clean up, the mess got worse. So Mommy sternly said, "Thank you for your help, please wait on the couch."

    She did, and then said, "But remember Mommy, you still love me."

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  13. Amusing kid stories told for the enjoyment of everyone are not bragging. Bragging is what insecure parents do, often in Christmas letters, often at school functions, very often at church.

    It is fair to aknowledge that all of us love our own kids the most and prefer them over any children on earth. But since everyone else feels that way about their children, we ought to tread lightly in our zeal, becuase geesh, it can sure be a turn-off to the very people we are trying to impress.

    Loved the story about "that's why they call him Jesus." It reminded me of my nieces who were being loud in sacrament meeting. The six year old scolded the other two saying, "be quiet or Jesus will kill you!"

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  14. Everyone needs someone to brag to, whether it is a grandparent, a supportive friend, or whomever.

    I have some great stories about prohibition (see my patience post). A few weeks ago my seven year old was given 5 pieces of candy in primary. She gave four to them to her sisters. That was before we started this healthy eating business. Last week she was given a package of starburst by her music teacher. I heard her auctioning off the individual candies to the highest bidder. She got her 5 year old sister to pay $11 for one starburst! I confronted her about the ethics of charging so much. "I'm sure your little sister doesn't realize that she could buy many packages of starburst for that much money." She told me, "But she can't buy any packages of starburst. Dad won't let her. That's why I had to raise the price. It's called supply and demand."

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  15. So I decided to look up whippersnapper to make sure I didn't just say something offensive.

    I doesn't really mean what I thought it meant. 🙂

    What a precocious child.

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  16. No kidding, THANKS for brightening my laundry filled day!

    Texasgal, that's almost the funniest kid story I've ever heard!

    Angie, you must be teaching those kids something good if your seven year old understands supply side economics!

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  17. I usually read, am fed, and depart, rarely leaving comments. BUt hey, when you say brag, about my kids, wow. I cannot resist the urge.

    We are the parents of three wonderful daughters. We raised them differently than most people in the church. You see, we really believe in the words of the prophet Joseph Smith, "we teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves". We realized early on that the were small human beings. Being to be taught how to make excellent choices, and when they don't how to make reparations.

    I could tell you great stories for hours about my wonderful daughters. There are three. And each is excellent. They all stumbled and fell and overcame hardships. But I don't want you to become bored.

    I'll tell you one. When they were in high school, instead of competing they all loved each other and got along great. They were each others' best friends. They began getting picked on in church by a group of other girls. It was difficult for them, and disheartening. Then as the youngest was graduating, one of the girls finally confessed the reason for her "mean" behavior towards her: She was jealous of the relationship she had with her sisters. The girl said her sister and her never shared anything and fought all the time. She wished for the same thing my daughters had.

    They are grown and the last was married last year.True success stories each of them. Perfect? Never. Yet each made great choices and we are glad they did. It was the best white knuckler ride ever. And I'd go around again given the opportunity.

    Braggedy brag? Anyday. Let me tell you about my girls.

    And Angie, your seven year old sounds a lot like my oldest! Great fun!

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