Monday, April 30, 2012

The un-impartability of self-worth

Originally posted June 21, 2011

When I see my son I know how amazing he is. I know that he worth more than the riches in the world. I know he is special. I know he has a wonderful body that is capable and needs no "improvements." I know that my son has much to offer the world. I know he doesn't need to change or conform to standards that others may see fit to place upon him. I know that. But what about him?
Granted at the moment he is only 20 months and (I hope) entirely clueless of the pressures he may find himself under later. He does not doubt his worth or the love of those around him. He is not insecure. And oh how I wish I could keep that confidence and happiness with him always. I don't ever want him to feel any self-doubt or low self-esteem.
The word "self-worth" is an interesting one. It is called that because it is something that only the "self" can have. It cannot be shared. I heard a wonderful speaker once say that we can tell our children of their worth. We can tell them how wonderful they are. But all that means to them is that mom (or dad) loves them. I've been thinking of that ever since.
If we can't teach children their own self-worth how is it learned? Heaven knows the world won't even attempt it. What is a loving parent to do? Here are my thoughts.
  1. Parents need to know their own self-worth. Children watch. If they can see that mom or dad think they are less than worthy the kids will find those same faults in themselves. We can certainly teach doubt, but we can also teach confidence just by having it. You cannot change other people, only yourself, but making this change could influence your children's lives for the better.
  2. Teach divine worth. When children understand that they are special, that they are children of Heavenly parents, and that their worth is eternal they can feel that worth from a higher power.
  3. Give some trust. Few things are more empowering to anyone than to be trusted. And it may be something as simple as trusting your child to clean the bathroom or to always pick up the mail on their way in, but that bit of confidence empowers children. It shows them they are worthy of trust. George Macdonald said, "To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved." I believe trust creates a sense of worth in individuals. If you know you have the trust of others you know you must be worth something.
  4. Teach service. Happy is the person who can lose themselves in the service of others. By showing love to others love pervades all around. The individual who serves is happy. The individual who serves sees the worth of all beings no matter their circumstances. The individual who serves is blessed to know personally that the beggar is as worthy of love and care as the rich man. Teach you children to serve, and you will be placing a critical block for self-worth to develop.
So while we may not be able to hand over a helping of self-worth on a silver platter to our children we can place the stepping stones that will help them learn it themselves.
Have more? Excellent! Please keep the list going in the comments section. I'd love to know your thoughts on this subject.