Bragging Rights

Even if I weren't aware of the school buses making their rounds early, the flashing lights exhorting me to slow down at 12:20 instead of 2:20, and the signs on every school marquee, I would still know when my county schools were having parent-teacher conferences. All I'd need to do is to view Facebook.

Parents are, understandably, quick to share that their child's teacher has given them a good report. In some cases, considerable detail may be shared, down to each child's reading level and how that compares to the child's grade level. Since this is all coming from an outside authority, the information is usually met with enthusiastic comments.

I can't help but feel like the reaction would be slightly different if I were to post such details of my children's accomplishments and achievements. To be fair, I doubt I would post as much information as some, even if my children weren't homeschooled. It's simply not my way. At the same time, though, I don't know that even information from an outside source (standardized test results, for instance) would be viewed in the same way that they would were I not the teacher and the parent.

Compounding the problem is our society's tendency to celebrate "everything but" the academic. Tops at a sport? Best at an instrument? Starring in the play? These are all acceptable accolades. Top scores on the SAT? Expect a polite "good job!" and a look that conveys the meaning all too well - we're just not supposed to talk about that.

And I was raised in that society, too, and it's ingrained in me. The problem comes when you have a child (or children) who lends him- or herself (or themselves) to the type of pithy anecdote that makes a great status update on Facebook or a wonderful 140-character tweet. Why is this a problem? Well, it's only a problem if you have an additional child or children who doesn't; a child or children who would be the one with the excellent SAT score or the amazing history project.

Perhaps I'm merely too reticent about accomplishments in general, but it is ingrained in me. Sharing these things goes too close to bragging, and that, nearly above all else, is to be avoided. Still, I can't help but feel like it's important for kids to hear and read some "bragging," some positive outside evaluation (wherein "outside" is "anyone who is not the child"). Or is it better, setting them up to be intrinsically motivated, without extrinsic motivation, in a way that I could never be?

I don't know.


Luna said...

I brag about my kids all the time. It was shown to me not to do that, but I pretty much tell them to bite me. I feel parents are allowed a little bragging here and there every once in a while. It's the parents who make it into a contest to show that their child is better than all the rest that it becomes a problem.

Daisy said...

ITA. I learned very quickly that sharing about my children's homeschooling struggles and accomplishments made me persona non grata. While my friends who public schooled can do that, my attempting to the do the same earned me the response, "Well, you can always put them back in public school [where they belong]."

So I don't talk about it. It is why I started my blog though. At least my children get the occasional pat on the back from grandparents and strangers since no one else in their social sphere will acknowledge anything accomplished outside of a public arena.

We all need outward encouragement. While it shouldn't be our only motivation, I do think it is important.

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