Sometimes, I think that people can read my mind, and I’m pretty sure this problem is not unique to me. The problem is, although people can make educated guesses about the way you’re feeling, only communication can provide verification. This lack of mind reading leads to a lot of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Maybe that’s why the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is so appealing to me. This is a song that encourages you to express your emotions through easily interpreted movements. After all, if you’re happy you’ll be clapping your hands, stomping your feet, and doing everything you can to tell the people around you that you are, in fact, happy!
When I was younger, I needed an “If You’re Proud of Your Daughter and You Know It” song, with coordinating motions. I spent a lot of time thinking that anything I did wasn’t good enough for my family to be proud of me, and that led to a lot of misunderstandings and resentment. As an adult, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to live up to the mythical expectations my family held for me, making myself miserable in the process. The problem is that articulating your needs, your need to have a family that is proud of you and your choices, is difficult. You don’t want to sound whiny, and you don’t want to find out that they can’t fulfill that need.
So even if you think it should be obvious to your child that you’re proud of their performance in a soccer game or a school play or that their photograph was featured in a gallery exhibit or that they got straight As in their final semester of college, don’t assume that they know. Tell them.