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May 4, 2003

on praising one's own children

I like to say nice things about other people, in their presence and also behind their backs. Yet I try not to say overly nice things about myself. Praising others makes me feel good (and often comes naturally); praising myself makes me feel guilty. I used to be able to follow both principles consistently—until I had kids. Now, I often want to say nice things about my children, even when they are not around. But many people see praising one's own offspring as a way of bragging about oneself. This is especially true of other parents, for we moms and dads are a very competitive lot (even the nicest ones). Indeed, when I praise my own children behind their backs, I feel a tinge of guilty pride that resembles the feeling I would have if I had just bragged about myself, even though I honestly do not see myself as responsible for the good things that my children do. (Then again, I'm not sure that I'm responsible for any good things I may do.) Is this feeling of pride a sign that it is wrong—immodest—to praise one's children when they are not present? Or is it right to praise them, as long as one does not feel pride when doing so? (After all, they are individuals in their own right, so why should anyone think about their parents when they are discussed?) Or is it right to praise them and to feel proud about their good qualities, even though it is wrong to praise oneself?

May 4, 2003 11:27 AM | category: philosophy | Comments


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