I must confess this was hard to write. I’ve written it over and over again in my head for the past couple of years, but haven’t been able to put it down on “paper”. It first started as an encouragement for parents, but the more I mulled over it and thought about my own experiences where I didn’t know how to celebrate others, I felt awful. Then I thought about the times where I reached out to friends and family to celebrate with me but what I got in return was silence.
Figuratively speaking, no one wants to throw a party and not have anyone show up. That’s basically sums up what happens when someone opens up and shares their victories, their triumphs, their successes–they are inviting us to join them in their celebration,their “party”, and reaching out in hopes that others will rejoice and get excited alongside of them.
We live in an expat, global nomad, missionary community and most of the exciting trips happen over the summer. So, when we get back our children gather and share with much excitement their experiences. In their own little way, they are learning to share their story, which I love, but often then not, what I hear in the midst of the sharing is a lack of celebration for the other. Instead, it becomes a one-up sharing time.
One day, I was driving my kids and a bunch of their friends to the park after everyone got back from their summer travels and this is what I heard in the car–the kids trying to one-up the other. One child, “I went to Six Flags with my Grandma.” The other child, “Well, I went to Legoland with my grandma too. My parents bought me this new Lego and it’s cool. Well, I got 3 new Legos.”
It made me sad. I do realize that kids are kids and they will eventually learn but that’s when I decided I need to be more intentional in encouraging my kids to celebrate others. To be happy for others even when they didn’t make the soccer team or don’t get that new toy.
I truly believe this: I know who my true friends are when I achieve something in my life.
The friends who rise up in the stands and applaud me across the stage are the ones who I want to hang on to, not the ones who are sitting seeping with jealousy as they wish me well under their breath. Barely able to put their hands together to celebrate with me or even those who just sit their and don’t value what I bring to the table. I think sometimes it’s harder to be friends with people in their successes and achievement, especially, when it’s something you’ve wanted.
I have come across acquaintances, not many only a few, who found happiness in my misery. Oddly enough, I have come across many more friends who couldn’t find happiness in my success.
I’m not pointing fingers, it’s hard, I get it.
I’ve been there and ashamedly done that–unable to muster up a real smile when a friend shared happy news with me. I tell you it’s easier to bind up the brokenhearted and be a listening ear to the wounded, than to rejoice with my talented friend who is beautiful inside and out, and tells me she’s going on a vacation to Greece with JUST her husband. All the while my kids are screaming and whining in the background and I manage to smile and respond with, “Good for you all!”
I won’t even go into all the stories where I have felt like my parade has been rained on by jealousy, insecurities, criticism and fear. Though I don’t necessarily struggle with jealousy, I am human and have had my bouts of the green monster at times. So, this is a reminder to me to praise others in front of my children. Celebrate with my friends when they have exciting news.
I’m not a jump up and down kind of person but I do try to always give a sincere compliment and smile when others share their happy news. Just in case you’re wondering, a sincere compliment doesn’t sound like this, “Ughh, not only can you make everything under the sun, paint, cook… but you’re also a good speaker.” I walked away from this friend, wondering if that was a compliment or a complaint.
I want my boys to be the kind of friends who can rally around their friends, stand beside them and rejoice with them as they cheer them on. Boys are competitive by nature which is not necessarily a bad thing when controlled, but it does make it more of a challenge to celebrate others when one has a strong competitive streak. So, I’m planting the seed of celebrating others, in my boys–now!
Teaching Your Kids to Celebrate Others
Lead by example. Our kids watch us more than we can ever imagine. Let them see you celebrate your friends and family. Celebrate them!
Life isn’t fair. Yup, this is a hard truth for all of us no matter what age. Remind our kids that life isn’t fair and sometimes others will get picked for the role in the play you wanted, or they will make the basketball team and you won’t.
Life isn’t one big competition. If we see every person in our life that way, we won’t end up having any friends. Stop looking around at what others are doing and just bloom with what you have and where you’re at.
Start at home. Siblings are a wonderful way to learn to do this. When one child has a tantrum because he lost the card game this is the perfect opportunity to remind our kids about celebrating others.
Gratitude. This is huge, when we practice gratitude for what we do have instead of spending our time and energy wishing we had what others do we’re able to enjoy our blessings. Again this starts with us.
Help them find their greatness. Encourage your children to discover what they’re good at.
Stop comparing. As parents we need to stop comparing our children to each other especially in front of them. When we hear our kids comparing themselves to others encourage them to stop and help them see that this is pointless and only feeds the green monster.
Share with me in the comment below ways you encourage your children to celebrate others.
Here are more articles you’ll enjoy:
Kid Friendship Dilemmas: I’m Not Your Friend Anymore
The Worst Way to Compliment Your Kids