When people tell me that I am doing a great job as a mother, I always give a sheepish look. It brings up a lot of tension in my belly, you know? Because, my mother. The way I was raised and parented wouldn't be something that I would promote with my children and haven't. In fact, my husband and I joke that I am a great mom because I do the exact opposite of what my mother did for me. There, I said it. I've been saying a lot lately, huh? Shed that light on the darkness, friends keep saying. This week, I am linking up again with my girl Charity - who is really so provokingly raw in her personal journey. She shares it all y'all. And I'm not even Texan. I did live there for 5 years, I digress. This week, the prompt is books and resources for child raising. For me, there's only one. You may have never heard of it before, and that's precisely why I was so excited at this week's prompt. The book is Your Child's Self-Esteem: Step-by-Step Guidelines for Raising Responsible, Productive, Happy Children by Dorothy Corkille Briggs and I've had it for years, maybe even close to a decade. Or so I thought!
In preparing to write this post, I thought I would pull some of my favorite parts of the book. When I headed to my bookshelf to get it, I remembered that I'd loaned out my copy (again, this is the third time) and I never got it back. As I was complaining about why it wasn't available for download, grumbling to myself, stubbing my toe and sliding books back and forth along the shelf (because it could totally just appear out of thin air, right?), my husband says, "you've loaned that out three times already, what's that say about you?" Indeed. It says I need to stop giving stuff away, I don't have unlimited Amazon money. Obviously. More than that, a child's self esteem, to me, is the most important aspect of a person to nurture.
Self esteem is so tender, so fragile and at the mercy of the parents in their charge. Unawares, we come into this world wholly dependent on our parents to feed us. Not just rice and beans, but to feed us spiritually, mentally and psychologically too. For so many, only the former is taken into account; the bare necessities, and for that, these children grow into hungry, hole-ridden adults who can't have a healthy relationship with anyone, least of all the parents that "raised" them. (Count me as one!)
Corkille Briggs explains:
What is self esteem? It is how a person feels about himself. It is his over-all judgement of himself - how much he likes his particular person.
High self-esteem is not a noisy conceit. It is a quiet sense of self-respect, A feeling of self-worth. When you have it deep inside, you're glad you're you. Conceit is but whitewash to cover low self-esteem. With high self-esteem, you don't waste time and energy impressing others; you already know you have value.
Your child's judgement of himself influences the kinds of friends he chooses, how he gets along with others, the kind of person he marries, and how productive he will be. It affects his creativity, integrity, stability, and even whether he will be a leader or a follower. His feelings of self-worth form a core of his personality and determine the use he makes of his aptitudes and abilities. His attitude towards himself has a direct bearing on how he lives all parts of his life. In fact, self-esteem is the mainspring that slates every child for success or failure as a human being.
My parents who had no idea the damage they were planting and the years of relationships as an adult that I would be unprepared to effectively navigate through. At the very least, I knew that my self esteem was the root of my problems. Learning that, and knowing I was running out of time to get a good roadmap (because Alex was born) I was adamant that the self esteem of my children would come before anything else: organic baby food, Mommy and me exercise classes, or even my own personal needs. I was, and still am, that crazy about it.
Corkille Briggs writes:
Have you ever thought of yourself as a mirror? You are one - a psychological mirror your child uses to build his identity. And his whole life is affected by the conclusions he draws.
Every infant is born without a sense of self. Each one must learn to be human in the sense that you and I use this word. Once in a while a child has been found who has managed to survive in complete isolation from other people. With no language, no conscience, no need for others, no sense of identity, the "wolf-child" is only human in appearance. Such cases teach that the sense of selfhood or personhood is not instinctual. It is social achievement, learned from living with others.
Am I the best parent that ever lived? My kids will say yes, but we all know that mistakes have been made and will be made. However, at the very least, I have a roadmap for them. They know they have value, they know that they are loved beyond measure and that their worlds no matter how big they become, will always have a special place in my little heart.
Have I convinced you to get this book? I think even if you don't have children, are planning to, or just need a roadmap for yourself to nurture the child within, it's worth it's weight in gold. Just don't all rush over and leave a copy for me to purchase. Again.
Join the rest of the Good Enough Moms this week, and every Tuesday, at The Wounded Dove