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Balancing Negatives and Positives

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

All of us have strengths and weaknesses, and I have my fair share of flaws like everyone else. One of which I fortunately recognized early on as a parent and took actions to minimize the potential negative impact on my girls.

The flaw in reference is that when I look at a situation I tend to focus on and highlight the negative vice the positive. My analogy is if there are ten things, I would call out the 3 negative and barely comment on the 7 positive. I noticed I had this tendency in several work situations, and when it migrated to my home life I realized this likely would not be good for my children. I also understood once children become adults their recollection can be skewed (more so about the negative than the positive). The long-term impact was of secondary importance initially, my concern was the immediate perception from them that all daddy did was criticize them or bring up how jacked up they were. This may not be my intent, but the perception of positive to negative comments differs from the reality.

Therefore, I had to figure out how to critique them so they learn and develop, which could be considered negative, while leaving a clear impression that I love them, am proud of them and believe they will excel in whatever they desire. The remedy I came up with was to write them letters. In these letters I deliberately was positive and encouraging; explicitly expressed my pride and joy in them; told them how impressed I was with their growth, how beautiful they are (inside and outside) and how much I loved them.

I tended to write about their success/growth socially, academically and athletically. It was rather random when I wrote the letters, but each time I included their achievements in the given year, what they may have overcome and how excited I was for the coming years.

I wanted to make it clear that regardless of how often I did or did not laud them, I loved them and was proud of them. I believe this left an impression on them, both in the short and long term. It helped with their self-esteem and made the "talks" that may not have been "happy and glad" more acceptable. And the letters were tangible examples of my love for them.

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