Are You Too Nice To Your Kids?

The other day, I was reading about D.L. Hughley hosting the first-ever comedy show on CNN. He said his dad never told him “I’m proud of you,” but that his dad just acknowledging that he was a first on CNN was like a pep talk.

2008.10.26 - Caution! Slip hazard!
Creative Commons License photo credit: a.drian

That got me thinking of something I have often thought about: I think my parents were too nice to me. When I was doing a traffic report at 1 a.m. in Northern California (yes, I did that), my parents acted like I was Hillary Swank winning the Oscar. “Your Aunt Arlene can get KGO in San Diego and listens to you!”  

When I hosted my first (and only) network show, “Playing It Straight,” they paid for me to have a debut party which coincided with my birthday. (The local news came and it was really cool. The show tanked, but that’s another story.)

Perhaps if they had been the kind of parents that withheld praise, I would have strived beyond my G-list status. Maybe I would have had that hunger to succeed I see in others,as opposed to my philosophy, which is: “I’m shooting for the middle.”

Am I making the same mistake with my daughter? When she draws outside the lines, should I continue to find something something to praise, like ,”Love that you used the whole page!” Or should start laying down some expectations?: “Try to get it within the lines.”

I was thinking of that HIllary Clinton story, of when she was a girl. She came home and told her mom some girl had slugged her. Her mom said to go back out there and face the girl, that “we don’t have cowards in this house.” She did, and clearly Hillary grew up tough and able to take a punch.

My mom would have said, “The girl who slugged you is a sick girl; I know her parents and they aren’t well. Forgive her.”

What have others done that seems to work?