In my last post, I introduced the philosopher Josef Pieper and talked about his insight on affirmation. I shared his thoughts on how humbly recognizing that everything that exists is good and has been gifted to us (including our own existence!) is the foundation for loving others. In Pieper’s words, this affirmation proclaims that “everything that is, is good, and it is good to exist.” I applied Pieper’s insights to parenting and explored how affirming our kids can deepen our attachments and strengthen our families.
Today, I want to talk briefly about parents affirming other parents. When spouses affirm each other and other couples and when moms and dads affirm other moms and dad, relationships of trust and encouragement are built. These relationships are the building block for strong communities that provide a safety net.
Too often, however, we compare ourselves to other parents in a way that leaves us feeling insecure about ourselves. This leads us to try and compete with can leave us bitter, angry, or despairing (vices that are the polar opposite of Pieper’s joyful festivity.) The other trap we can fall into as parents is pride. Pieper noted that humility is essential for affirmation and that “the act of freely giving oneself cannot take place unless it […] grows from the root of a comprehensive affirmation.” Our pride can blind us to the goodness of others and keep us from affirming and thus loving them. Not only does this poison our relationships, it also keeps us from being able to properly celebrate the joys of our own family.
Last year I highlighted a report from PEW Research which found that parents (and especially mothers) often use social media to affirm each other.
- 74% of parents who use social media get support from their friends there.2 Digging into the data, 35% of social-media-using parents “strongly agree” that they get support from friends on social media. Fully 45% of mothers who use social media “strongly agree” that they get support from friends on social media, compared with just 22% of fathers.
I noted that parents that #trustparents (themselves and fellow parents) and who support each other can benefit from strong bonds, whether online or offline. When we affirm each other’s marriages and parenting, we help to build up communities where love flourishes and joy abounds.