Balancing Act

Feeling appreciated is key to relationships -- except parenting

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Feeling underappreciated

Feeling underappreciated ( Getty Images / December 26, 2013)

My wise and beautiful friend Sarah once told me that the key to a happy relationship is feeling appreciated.

Someone told it to Oprah, she said, so it must be true. I adore Oprah and I believe she only listens to people with very good advice, except for the people who told her to start selling chai tea at Starbucks, which is ridiculous.

But back to being appreciated. Doesn't that make sense? The idea that feeling appreciated makes you happier and more invested in your relationships? It's a lovely sort of self-fulfilling practice: Your splendor is recognized; you continue to be splendorous. Everyone wins.

This does not work with children.

I recently surprised my kids with a trip to Sanibel Island. I booked the trip weeks before I told them about it, waiting for just the right moment to spring the happy news that they'd soon be skipping school, hopping a flight to Florida and spending three glorious days on the beach with the world's greatest mom. (Except I didn't say "world's greatest mom," because then they would think my sister-in-law was taking them to Florida.)

Here's how that went.

"Can we go to Disney?"

No. Different part of Florida.

"SeaWorld?"

No. We're not going to a theme park, you guys. Just a beach.

"What if there's a tsunami?"

There won't be.

"What if there's a typhoon?"

There won't be a typhoon either.

"Will there be bees?"

I don't know. No. Probably not.

"I'm not going if there are bees."

We can avoid the bees.

"Can we at least go to Legoland?"

This went on for 15 minutes, the wind slowly leaving my sails, before I decided to cut off the conversation and bask in their appreciation a different day.

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