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Affirmation at the Top of the World

Affirmation at the Top of the World

This is a very old story, but it involves fifteen seconds worth remembering.

Many years ago, I made an extremely wise decision and married a wonderful young lady.

Part of our honeymoon was a visit to Walt Disney World. We splurged and stayed in a nice room on-site. At dinnertime, we rode the elevator to the top floor to fulfill our reservation to dine in the “Top of the World” restaurant. There we enjoyed a tasty meal and an entertaining show.

At the table next to ours sat a young man. I’d guess he was nine, perhaps ten. He was dressed in a suit and tie. Sharing his table for two was his stylishly dressed mother. Due to our close proximity we could easily overhear their conversation. He was polite, articulate, and respectful of both his mother and the servers.

Later, as we started to leave, I had an inspiration. I was impressed with this young man and knew it was the result of good parenting. (These things don’t “just happen.”) I wanted to affirm her good child-rearing. I went to the table and leaned down to ensure she would hear me over the after-the-show exiting music.

I complimented her parenting and stated what a fine young son she was raising. She looked up at me, said “thank you,” and started to cry.

Her concerned boy reacted right away, “Mommy, what did he say to you?” I think he was ready to take me on.

“He said nice things,” she told him. “These are happy tears.”

I don’t know her situation. Had her husband left her? Was he serving in the military? Was he ill? Had he passed on? Or was he simply too busy to join them? Was the parenting success all hers, or was there usually a father involved? I didn’t know.

But in that moment, a mother was doing a great job, and I felt that needed affirmation.

I don’t know if that is a memory she still cherishes like I do. But I determined that day it would be so nice if someday, a random stranger was so impressed with my child they would take a moment to affirm my parenting. I might say, “thank you” and start to cry myself.

You know, it only takes a minute to stop and say a kind word to a parent whose child is behaving well. Your words might be just the jolt of encouragement that he or she needs at that moment. And your sincere compliment will also impact the child…as well as yourself.

By: Dave Trouten is the married father of two teenage boys and a Division Chair & Professor of Communication at Kingswood University.

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