Compliment Deflected


Genuine humility doesn’t mean false humility just to make other people feel better. Why should you learn to receive a compliment on your child's behalf?

Compliment my kid and I just don’t know what to do.

I’ve worked a long time to figure out how to accept compliments on my own behalf, but even with best friends and supportive strangers there is a weird subtext underlying compliments for my kids. What they say is, “Wow, that was great!” But what I hear is, “My kid doesn’t do that.”

So to make others feel better, I deflect the compliment.

“Wow, he knows the alphabet already?!”

“Yeah, he just likes letters! But the kid can’t kick a ball to save his life.”

Chuckle chuckle.

Compliment deflected. Smiles all around.

“Man, you make me feel like I need get to work on my daughter.”

“Hah! You say that now but you haven’t seen him [fill in the blank with something he’s not good at].”

Compliment deflected. More smiles.

My intention is to express that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and this deflection seems to put people at ease and forge a connection. Besides, my son is so young that it doesn’t matter. He isn’t listening; he doesn’t understand.

Or does he?

Recently I’ve realized that he is listening; suddenly he’s old enough to understood. And his feelings are more important than weird subtexts.

Besides, I’m also learning an important truth: my son doesn’t excel to make others feel bad about their parenting. He excels because that’s what he was created to do. Even I have very little to do with it.

So I’m learning to take a compliment on his behalf. Not just accept a compliment but express pride and surprise and enthusiasm in front of him, and to him, because of him.

“Wow, he knows the alphabet already?!”

“Yup! He just loves his letters! Don’t you buddy?!”

Hugs and kisses for the little man. Smiles all around.

No need to deflect the compliment.

No need to downplay his strengths, or to point out my weaknesses as a parent. Because accepting the compliment and showing pride in his God-given talents is the greatest gift I can give him as a mom.

And yes–it might make others feel uncomfortable with themselves or their children in comparison.

Comparison often makes me feel that way, too.

I still struggle each time the desire to deflect and make others feel comfortable pops up. The pressure not to “brag” about your kids is heavy.

But genuine humility doesn’t mean false humility just to make other people feel better.

Besides, he just loves the alphabet. I didn’t do anything to force it; I certainly shouldn’t apologize for it.

That’s what I’m learning anyway.

by Marie Osborne


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