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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Are You Damaging Your Child’s Self Esteem?

So many parents think they’re doing an amazing job raising their children. They schedule all of their after-school activities, they make sure their nutrition falls within the guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration, they check their homework, and they do everything they think they’re supposed to do to be a good parent. Job done, right?

But parenting isn’t a “JOB,” and successful parenting involves more than just attending to all of their children’s basic needs and educational requirements. What many parents don’t realize is that their children come into this world with potential that may not be aligned with the parents’ preconceived notions about what that potential should be. Your child’s education requirements are far different than are his or her educational needs. While you may be talented in politics, your daughter may not have any interest whatsoever in pursuing a career in politics; she may have literary aspirations. While you are deeply involved in sports, your son might be more interested in science.

I can’t help but think of Jack Andraka, the young man who created an app that detects pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancer. His parents encouraged his curiosity and allowed him to explore HIS purpose, not theirs. And the results are astounding. That boy was born with a purpose and with his parents behind him every step of the way, he is flourishing, and WE will reap the benefits of his parents’ support. 

Sadly, too many parents become disillusioned when their children follow completely different paths than the ones the parents set for them. Parents criticize, berate, and belittle children who refuse to become clones of their parents. They sneer at their children and call them names. They never realize the damage they are inflicting upon their children. The thought never enters their consciousness that they are destroying their child’s spirit – they’re not self-aware enough to even consider the damage they’re inflicting. But trust me, it doesn’t take much to destroy a child’s spirit. Children who are bombarded with statements like, “You’re so stupid! You’re so lazy!” and other comments are destined for failure unless some other nurturing and supportive adult steps forward, mentors the child, and gives the child a reason to live.

How do parents deal with what they consider to be “wayward” children? They criticize them and spew sarcastic quips at them in an attempt to humiliate their children and guilt them into following the parent(s)’ roadmap. This forceful parenting style results in drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide. Sometimes one parent will recognize her child’s gifts, while the other parent seems intent on destroying them. The child, though, will pay more attention to the negative than the positive. The negative parent plants seeds of doubt in the child so that no matter how many positive comments she hears, she will be plagued by the negative comments and sometimes dwell on them. 

Help your children succeed by being nurturing and supportive, not condescending and negative. Their little paths might not be aligned with yours, but you can help them pave the way to greatness by encouraging them to forge their own path.

If you want to read more about Jack Andraka, I encourage you to read the Forbes article, Cancer, Innovation, and a Boy Named Jack.

For a personal glimpse into the life of a woman who would have loved a healthy dose of self-esteem, please read, The Hands of Time.

If you would like to read more from this author, please click HERE! And thank you for visiting!

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