‘Tis the Season of Accomplishments


When is “bragging” acceptable?

One of my sons achieved something recently that I wanted to shout to the world, but then I took a step back. I wondered what benefit there would be to making it a Facebook status update. Did all 500 of my friends really need to know I was proud of my kid? Not really.

‘Tis the season for the Facebook news feed to blow up with all kinds of accolades. Information about grades on report cards, admission to college, awards at school ceremonies, graduations, and various sports triumphs await me each day.

All of this made me start thinking about when it’s okay to “brag” on your kids, or yourself for that matter.  I know enough from talking with others that everyone seems to have a different level of tolerance regarding other people’s successes. By sharing my personal opinion on the matter I could open myself up to all sorts of criticism, so instead I want to share with you some elements I’ve thought about that may be helpful to you.

Here is what I have noticed about myself. The farther removed I am from a situation, the more easily I can be excited for the individual’s achievement. For example, seeing that someone graduated from college with honors only makes me click “like.” That’s 20 years in my past and 10 years before my kids are at that stage.

However, the closer it gets to the realm of my own existence, the harder another’s achievement can be to swallow. For example, I belong to a few writer’s groups where we share our successes. In many ways, it’s a safe place to share an accomplishment because everyone is pulling for one another. However, when I see someone gets a publishing contract and that’s what I’m hoping for, too, it can be ever so slightly hard to swallow. It’s a little harder to keep the beast of envy at bay. I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way, because it’s painful to admit.

There isn’t any such thing as bragging etiquette (bragging has actually been researched very little in psychology), but I think we can all work together to try to be considerate of others’ feelings. Here are a few tips to think about before you share a success of your own, or that of a family member with others:

1) Know your audience. If you are going to report about your son’s winning slam dunk online, think about your list of friends. Could it be that you are friends with someone from the opposing team? How might you posting that make them feel? If you are with a group of friends whose kids are about the same age as your own, then don’t rub your child’s test scores in their face.

2) Who really needs to know? Before social media the results of a report card would likely only be shared with family. Grandma probably wants to know how her granddaughter is doing in school, but one of your old friends from high school could probably care less. Make a phone call or use a private message to rave about your kid’s success.

3) What are your intentions? I’ve shared information about my own achievements before because I was just so excited. It seemed like it was an accomplishment beyond my own capabilities, so I shared. I’m not sure after the fact if others really cared, but my intentions were not to draw praise for myself. If you are sharing with the desire to see others verbally pat you on the back, then maybe it’s best kept to yourself. If you are sharing your child’s accomplishments to make yourself look good, then the information should be shared with those closest to you who would be pleased to hear.

4) Give praise where praise is due. I have seen people congratulate someone on an accomplishment in online forums when that person is not actually online. A tweet congratulating your spouse on his/her recent promotion when your spouse isn’t on Twitter is maybe not the best idea. Send him/her a text instead.

The line between good pride and bragging is a thin one. I feel like I have a lot to learn about this issue. I wish there was a surefire formula to ensure our intentions are clear and others would receive our praise of ourselves or those close to us well. Let’s just think a minute before we race to the keyboard or share with a group of people that thing we’re just dying to let others know about. In addition, let’s work to encourage those around us when they accomplish something amazing. Words of praise are too often few and far between. Finally, let’s not judge one another’s intentions to harshly.

What kinds of accomplishments do you think are acceptable to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.






Image from Free Images.

6 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season of Accomplishments

  1. Intentions are the key! I also think the more I know the person, the more I understand whether they’re bragging or just excited. It’s about the heart. For example, I’m dying to know what your kiddo did that made you want to “brag,” because that’s so rare from you, it would mean more. The people that share EVERY SINGLE accomplishment get to me. Because then it feels a lot more “Look at me, I’m awesome” and less humble. You can be both. It’s just hard.

  2. I like what you say at the very end about not judging other people harshly. I am trying not to be as judgmental as I’ve been in the past about people who seem braggy on Facebook. You never know what else people are coping with in their lives that is making them do that. And as you say, we all have trouble with knowing where to draw the line!

    • My husband and I were just talking about how too often we automatically think the worst of people anymore instead of the best. I’m not sure why that is, but I think it’s true. Life is much better when we assume the best.

  3. Filtering is indeed a lost art. Too much and you give the impression your life is perfect. Too little and you run the risk of offending, annoying, or just being gross (private message already, people!).

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