“I Just Want to be Appreciated!”
If I were to ask you, “How much do you feel appreciated on a scale of 1 to 10 by your kids, husband, partner, friends, family, or work?” What would you say? I have talked to plenty of moms who feel they were appreciated at work and would give themselves a high number, even a 10. But at home, they would give themselves a low number like 2 or 3 on the appreciation scale. I have listened to a number of moms who had quit rewarding careers to be stay-at-home moms. They were reeling from the consistent lack of appreciation from their kids and spouse and missing the appreciation they received at work.
Moms as a whole are generous and have an amazing capacity to give. But when you have given all you have and all you get is the eyeroll or just another entitled demand from your teen (or spouse), something in you starts to go off the rails. This is normal; moms need appreciation. It’s the nourishment of a mom’s heart. Without it, moms go to the dark place of resentment.
Nothing good comes from resentment. When the generosity dries up, you’re not motivated to give to your family. Your vibrant “we can do this” energy gets depleted. All of the resentments cousins show up, like frustration, bitterness, and anger. Your strength and vitality wane. Joy, happiness, and gratitude leave you. You find yourself getting angry when your husband goes out with the boys and your left at home.
There is an unconscious quid pro quo that happens when you don’t get appreciation.
If you don’t appreciate me, then I’m not going to appreciate you.
Another factor that makes it hard for moms to give appreciation is that we have high expectations of our kids and ourselves. We feel this pressure to be a good mom and that the only way this is validated, is if our kids are successful. I call this the pressure to be perfect. This makes it hard to appreciate our teens when we expect so much more from them. We kind of feel that if we show appreciation for the ‘B’, then she won’t work hard for the ‘A’, so we withhold it.
The good news is that we can dial up the appreciation.
Appreciation is defined as a favorable evaluation and thankful recognition. There is a depth implied in appreciation. It’s not just telling your son, “thanks for taking out the trash.”
Being thankful is great, but appreciation is stronger and more impactful. Appreciation is seeing and naming the character behind the action. Appreciation takes more reflection.
See what’s more impactful. “Thanks for the dinner,” or “I appreciate your thoughtfulness in making my favorite enchiladas. They tasted amazing. You really are a good cook. And I know that took extra time in your already busy day.” Which comment motivates you to put a little more effort into your next dinner? Right…the comment where you felt seen and validated…in other words appreciated.
Appreciation brings the walls down between people. I have seen the angriest couple in therapy soften towards one another when we did an appreciation exercise. The couples would often say to the other, “well I don’t tell you I appreciate you because you know it already.” We may know it, but we all need to hear it.
We need to appreciate each other daily, even when you think they know it already.
Appreciation starts with you. I want you to appreciate what you do for the family. Here’s what I mean. So many moms at the end of the day don’t feel like good moms. We feel we’ve fallen short. But what if at the end of the day your self-talk was, “I helped my daughter when she was having a meltdown, even when I was slammed at work. Good job mom.” I know this sounds a little weird, but our self-talk matters. It’s a lot better than saying, “I don’t matter and I must be doing something wrong.” Negative self-talk will keep you tossing and turning all night long.
When you appreciate yourself, you can appreciate others. Sometimes this takes some digging, it might not be obvious to you at first. You want your daughter to get her grades up and so you feel there is nothing to appreciate. But you want to affirm her character by saying things like; “You really showed initiative on your science project. You reached out to your teacher. You worked on it right away when you came home from school. And that’s really making a difference.”
Don’t be stingy with appreciation, it will actually motivate the behaviors you want to see in others.
If you are married, intentionally give appreciation to your spouse. Teen drama often drives a wedge between you and your partner and you can find yourself in a cycle of blame. Again appreciation brings down the wall of blame and discord and can bring life to all your relationships.
I challenge you this week to give one (or more) appreciation to you, your teen, and your spouse or significant person in your life.
I appreciate your desire to be the best mom possible, evidenced by you reading this entire blog:)