As parents we’re so used to receiving unsolicited feedback about our parenting – unwanted advice or judgment about our choices – that receiving praise can be such a welcome surprise.
For US parents, Jorge and Lenore, the unexpected praise came in the form of a letter from their children’s bus driver, Cindy Clausen.
Shared on the Love What Matters Facebook page, the letter begins, “I feel compelled to write to tell you how beautiful your children are, inside and out.” Ms Clausen noted that this “can only come from the home,” and the patience, guidance and examples the pair are setting and teaching their kids.
Ms Clausen explained that a little boy called Jackson rides her bus each day and that Lenore and Jorge’s two kids, Annaliese and Jorge Jr., always ask if they can sit beside him. “Both of your children have shown him so much compassion and support,” she wrote.
Ms Clausen says that some days, Jackson is a little sad when he gets on the bus. And yet, she explained, “as soon as he sees Annaliese and Jorge, he smiles.”
Jackson has difficulty walking and sometimes it takes a little while for him to get to his seat.
“Today,” Ms Clausen wrote “Annaliese looked out from around her seat and said, ‘Come on Jackson, you can do it.'” And, she said, when the children arrived at school, Jorge helped the little boy carry his backpack.
“I know you know how wonderful your children are,” Ms Clausen wrote. “But I wanted you to know that it shows.”
Ms Clausen’s beautiful letter has been shared over 3,000 times – and has garnered hundreds of supportive comments.
“Parenting goals right here,” reads the most “liked” comment. “I don’t need my son to be the smartest in his class, but I’d sure love it if he was one of the kindest.”
“I love everything about this,” reads another. “That the children are kind and polite, and have parents who have taught them well, and that another human being saw their kindness and took the time to acknowledge it, this must have been a beautiful moment for the parents to read this note!”
When I asked other parents to share their memories of receiving unexpected praise, many noted just how good it made them feel – especially on “those” days.
Mother-of-two, Lisa, was at a first birthday party when she was approached by a grandmother whom she’d never met. “She told me that my son, (who was four and probably the oldest guest there), had walked up and introduced himself and his little brother,” Lisa recalled. “She said he was so sweet and polite and that I must be doing a good job. It was exactly what I needed to hear when he was diving into the baby ball pit and bouncing off the walls with excitement.”
For mother-of-one Lily, the unexpected praise came from her daughter’s dentist. “I took my six-year-old to the dentist and he was SO good with kids,” she says. “As we were leaving he commented on what a great kid she is and then said “congratulations.” When Lily asked him “on what?” the dentist replied “the fantastic parenting”.
“For someone who is quite isolated on my parenting journey – this was much needed encouragement,” she said.