I’m not really sure when the preoccupation with self-esteem began. But, I do see the results of our obsession with it. It affects modern parenting in so many ways that I’m not even sure if we’re capable of being aware of all of its influence in our daily interactions with our children.
But, one area that is getting out of control on the self-esteem front is the way we encourage our kids to be puffed up and proud braggers and taunters. And, in the name of a healthy self-esteem, we say it’s okay.
Human beings who boast about their accomplishments are nothing new. Kids are prone to telling everyone how wonderful they are and how good they are at things. This is a natural part of being a child, I think. But, something in our culture has changed.
In the past, parents tried to train their children not to boast about things to others. They rightly taught their kids no one likes a bragger. That it is rude to tell others how great you are. That when you brag on yourself, no one else has the chance (or the desire) to brag on you.
But, now that we are so enamored with the notion of self-esteem, when we hear our children boasting we feel proud that our kids are so confident. We (desperately) tell ourselves that this is a sign that our kids are well-adjusted and that they like themselves. And, we let the bragging continue unchecked.
Meanwhile, we wonder why no one seems to want our kids to do well. Why people have something against them. Why they don’t seem well-liked or appreciated. While we allow the bragging to go on without correction, our kids suffer the consequences. Because, admit it–you’ve known braggers–they aren’t pleasant people to be around.
It’s essential that we teach our kids this important life lesson: Let other people brag on you when it’s merited, but, don’t ever be the one who is bringing up your own good qualities or accomplishments.
Of course, I want my kids to have a good self-esteem. We all do. But, when we allow them to try to get their sense of worth from desperate look-at-me-and-love-me actions, we are badly misleading these precious ones that God has put in our care. Because their bragging almost never yields the result that they are looking for. There is no real sense of self-esteem that comes from enthusiastically telling an unenthusiastic audience how amazing you are.
Our kids should get their sense of worth from our teaching them that they are precious in God’s sight. They should feel loved unconditionally, not desperate to prove to everyone why they should be appreciated. When we allow them to brag, we are solidifying the false notion that we are probably born with that says our worth is based on our performance.
Self-esteem and humility are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I often feel that the biggest braggers out there are some of the most insecure and sad people. We can teach our children that they are loved and are special because God made them and He loves them. Any other accomplishments or attributes are just icing on the cake. And, all good things come from God anyway, leaving us no room to boast at all.