I have a hard time accepting compliments about my kid. Admittedly, I have struggled to accept compliments about myself, as well, but I am getting better at hearing and appreciating them. After all, I worked hard on that research project, so why not enjoy the praise? For the most part, however, I had nothing (or very little) to do with the things my son is complimented for, and I suspect such accolades are mostly social formalities, so the flattery makes me self-conscious.
When he was first born, a surprising number of people (family, friends, strangers, doctors, etc.) remarked that he was very alert and had a perfectly-shaped head (apparently, there aren’t too many nice things to be said about a newborn). I would thank them, thinking that those features were at least partly the result of my epic childbirthing skills. As he’s grown up, however, my son is most frequently complimented on his big eyes, strength, social skills, curiosity, and general adorableness. To some extent, these attributes are likely either inherited from my husband and/or me, or are the product of our engaged parenting. But in the event of the former (i.e. my son definitely got his eyes from me), I did nothing aside from contributing half of my son’s DNA. As regards the latter (i.e. my husband and I have always encouraged our son to be active, which may have contributed to him rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and standing on the earlier end of the spectrum), there is no way to know what effect, if any, our efforts and example have had on our son.
I believe my son is an individual, with his own unique attributes and accomplishments. Even though my husband may have been the one to teach our son to wave, the baby does it enthusiastically, so he deserves credit for his friendliness to strangers. The outfits I dress him in may accentuate my son’s cuteness, but it’s his smile and charm that are most adorable.
When someone pays my son a compliment, I usually just agree. My husband, on the other hand, takes any comment about our son as an invitation to launch into a litany of his achievements. For some reason, when my husband takes credit for our son’s best qualities, I see it as endearing evidence of his love for and pride in his son. By contrast, I am afraid I will come across as arrogant if I accept and join in admiration of my son.
I think people feel compelled to admire a baby, and since I have done nothing to earn their praise, I generally feel uncomfortable when faced with “kid-pliments.” I honestly do not know how to respond. I am incredibly proud of my little man, but I am not sure how to express that without sounding boastful. I’d welcome ideas and advice from other parents . . .