Beyond "good job": How to affirm your kids at the end of the school year

Thursday night I will be attending my daughter's last band concert of the year. She has excelled and has been apart of a fabulous middle school band program. 

Family will attend the concert, she will do great, we will all cheer, and then it will be over. We will meet her in the hallway and with hugs congratulate her. Friends and family will say words like: 

"Good job,"

 "Well done" or 

"Beautiful performance."

This end will be closure and a relief for everyone.

Then, if I'm honest, I'll look to the next ceremony, party or program to attend.

Is there a deeper opportunity I'm missing with affirming my daughter? Instead of moving on to the next program could something else be said that might stay with her for a long time?

I think so.

I've stumbled upon a meaningful way to borrow moments like this for a greater cause: the affirmation of my daughter's identity in Christ

The secret is not the short phrase you say right after the concert or report card but the one you say coming back around two hours later with more words than "good job." 

Who comes back around an hour later in the month of May!?

Coming back around communicates that you have been thinking about your person. Time passed indicates you've carried them within your heart and have slowed down to notice them. It says you've been reflecting on not just their performance but their personhood.

And that is what you are to do. Affirm who they are not just what they've done.

Maybe it sounds something like this:

"You know I have been thinking about tonight and I really enjoyed watching you. As you played, it struck me the person you are becoming. You are a hard worker, very kind and exceptional young lady. I can see why Jesus loves living in you. You show off his character and love so well."

Whatever you are led to share or write, here are some possible elements to consider:

-Affirm the person that they are becoming

-Notice God's delight over their life 

-Indicate they are becoming who they already are in Christ

-Bless their unconditional identity that is underneath their conditional achievement 

-Your parental enjoyment of their presence

Wait for the right time to share these words when they would be best received. 

 In my opinion, nothing compares to eye contact and the spoken word of a parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent or friend of the family.

Sometimes a written note connects better depending on your child. 

My Dad wrote a letter to me as I was close to finishing up seminary. Here is a portion of what he said (I was 27 when he wrote it):

"I am certain that you will impact many lives personally in very positive ways and that your life and career will have huge significance! Believe it or not, I just prayed; out here in the garage for you and for your new victories and as well, I thanked the Lord for allowing me the privilege of being your Father. Love, Dad"

His letter is a timeless affirmation that goes way beyond: "good job."

The challenge is to resist the hurry of this month of May. Don't quickly move on to the next event without sharing this incredible gift of affirmation.

Whether it be a report card, end of year ceremony, final tournament, concert or program, let this be an opportunity to clearly speak Gospel-like affirmation to your young person. There is no greater gift than blessing the identity of another.

May it be so.

Off to go save seats!

John Freeman