The end of the school year usually engenders a decent amount of pride.

In my home, there were wonderful report cards, end of year concerts and successful soccer seasons. Two of my kids “moved up” – one entering high school and our youngest leaving elementary school.

Beyond the general achievements, each gave us reasons to feel particularly proud.

Our youngest was sad to leave the innocence and safety of elementary school. Yet when thinking about her future, recalibrated her career ambitions. Telling me that she no longer wanted to be a veterinarian but now wished to grow up to be an activist. Her goal? To make the world better for animals and people.

Our middle daughter was coming off an abysmal soccer season last year. Wins could be counted on one finger. Several friends had left the team for “greener pastures’ – e.g. a better team. She was left asking questions about loyalty and what being on a team even means. A year later, there she was jumping up and down with her teammates at midfield as they clinched the championship on the final game of the season. Her leadership, dedication to team and hard work were the true cause for my celebration.

Our eldest daughter had told us that going into her moving up ceremony there would be some awards given out. Selected by teachers, she said the only one she cared about was “the kindness award.” It was created in memory of a student who forty-four years ago died in a tragic car accident. It is given each year to the student who, like her, exhibits goodwill, helps others, leads by example, loves to learn, and demonstrates empathy. As my daughter’s name was called and she walked across the stage to receive the award, my wife and I could not hold back tears. Middle school for her, like many others, had its fair share of challenges. To see that in spite of this, her character remained strong and her kindness recognized was all that a parent could ask for. Her name will now be added to a plaque in the middle school office, joining forty-three other “kind” children.

All of these achievements happened right around Father’s Day. They would be the only gifts I would need.

My mother, who is not known for her pearls of wisdom or her tech savvy, sent me this text upon hearing the news:

“Each child has a gift to give to us as parents and we must let them hear the words ‘proud of you’ to give them encouragement in what they do in life.”

If you think I’m using this space to brag about my kids and share how proud of not just what they’ve done but who they are becoming, you’re right.

Perhaps in light of recent events, it may seem trivial or even inappropriate.

But now more than ever, we need to tell not just our young girls, but all our children, partners, parents, and friends when we are proud of them

In the words of my mother, it gives them encouragement in what they do.

Which brings me to my last point of pride.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, my wife quickly looked for ways to turn pain into purpose. She organized a small rally in our town, reached out online to help women in states whose rights have been revoked, and is planning to turn her upcoming birthday celebration into a fundraiser.

The pride I feel in my daughters should be of no surprise. I need to look no further than their mother for their inspiration.

It is in the darkest of times, when we all need to be encouraged. To let others know we are proud of them. It helps us do what is right. It can be the motivation to take the first step to restore what is lost.

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