Recognising the value of recognition

an actor holding his award Photo by RODNAE Productions on

It was just another Wednesday, when I received a notification that transformed a mundane ‘hump day’ into something altogether more uplifting.

I’ve never been a big one for blogging/influencer awards and rankings. The former are often akin to a popularity contest: (s)he who has the most fans wins. And the latter is often biased, based on one person’s opinion, how many followers someone has and, in a few cases, whether people have paid to be included.

I do rather like the UK awards and rankings produced by the PR and comms software company Vuelio, though. An expert panel determines their award winners, rather than a public vote. And an algorithm creates their rankings by looking at multiple factors such as social sharing, engagement, influence and traffic. In other words, the process is as unbiased as possible and virtually impossible to game.

Four in a row

So, anyway, the notification on Wednesday informed me that I’m ranked second overall on Vuelio’s 2022 list of top dad blogs. It’s the seventh consecutive year in which I’ve featured in the top ten. It’s also the fourth straight time I’ve been number two.

I’ve also previously been a finalist twice at Vuelio’s Online Influence Awards, but never won. And before that I was a three-time finalist at BritMums’ Brilliance in Blogging Awards, again without ultimate success.

(At this point, feel free to insert jokes about being always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Yada, yada, yada. At least I can say I’m consistent, if frustratingly so.)

Recognition matters to me …

I’ve often suffered from imposter syndrome during my 15-year blogging career. Even at my peak, I never put up big numbers. I don’t have a background in journalism or PR, like so many of my blogging peers. No publisher has ever beaten down my door with an offer of a book deal. Other than being a dad in a parenting niche dominated by mums, there’s little unique about my experiences. I’m not a stay-at-home dad or a single dad. LGBTQ+? No. Blended family? No. Kids with special educational needs? No. I have neither a single child, a coachload of offspring, an adopted child or kids with massive age gaps. None of the above. I’m just a happily married dad with three normal(ish) kids and a normal middle-class lifestyle.

It’s a writer’s lot, I suppose, that I constantly wonder why on earth anyone would want to read any blog post I publish. Or why I have a moderately large number of social media followers who choose to engage with me.

So whenever I appear in a top ten list or on an awards shortlist, that recognition means as much to me as a lifebuoy does to a drowning man. And if that recognition feels genuinely earned through the quality of my content rather than the size of my fan club – fan club, yeah, right – that’s even better.

That’s why a simple ping on my phone put a significant spring in my step on Wednesday morning. Recognition matters, whether it’s as a blogger, at work or at home.

… And to my kids

As always, I want to make a point that relates to my experiences as a parent. And, as usual, I’m arriving here in a slightly roundabout way.

The point is this: recognition matters to our children too. I will be the first person to admit that I am sometimes too quick to anger or be critical of our kids. It is important to set standards that we expect them to live up to. However, too often it’s easy to jump on bad behavious and forget to praise and reinforce the good moments.

It saddens me when our kids don’t acknowledge or value the things we do for them. And, conversely, when they do thank us – and sometimes all it takes is a smile – I feel like the best dad in the world, no matter how small and insignificant what I actually did was. I love it when I cook for the family and they spontaneously appreciate what I’ve made. I love it when they give me a cuddle if they see I’m a bit down about something.

And every time one of our children does something good or gets a better than expected score on a school test or any of a million and one little things, I need to remember to recognise those small moments too. We can’t all win awards or be the number one person in our field. But other people can recognise the good things we do. And we can return that recognition in kind as parents, as co-workers and as human beings.

Recognition matters, more than many of us realise.