Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Read a great post today from Dr. Jim Taylor about self esteem.

Parenting: The Sad Misuse of Self-esteem

Self-esteem is the most misunderstood and misused developmental factor of the past thirty years. Child-rearing experts in the early 1970s decided that all of the efforts of our society should be devoted to helping children build self-esteem. I couldn’t agree more. Children with high self-esteem have been found to perform better in school and sports, have better relationships, and have lower rates of problem behavior.

The Wrong Message About Self-Esteem

Unfortunately, these same experts told parents that the best way to develop self-esteem was to ensure that children always felt good about themselves. Parents were told to love and praise and reinforce and reward and encourage their children no matter what they did. Unfortunately, this approach created children who were selfish, spoiled, and entitled.

Parents were also led to believe that they had to be sure that their children never felt bad about themselves because it would hurt their self-esteem. So parents did everything they could to protect their children from anything that might create bad feelings. Parents didn’t scold their children when they misbehaved. Parents didn’t discipline their children when they didn’t give their best effort in school. In sum, parents didn’t hold their children accountable for their actions, particularly if they made mistakes or failed-”Gosh, that would just hurt my little one’s self-esteem!”

Schools and communities bought into this misguided attempt at building self-esteem by “protecting” children from feeling bad about themselves. For example, school grading systems were changed. I remember between sixth and seventh grade my middle school replaced F for failure with NI (Needs Improvement). God forbid I’d feel bad about myself for failing at something! Sports eliminated scoring, winners, and losers in the belief that losing would hurt children’s self-esteem. My four-year-old niece came home one day from a soccer tournament with a ribbon that said “#1-Winner” on it. When I asked her what she did to deserve such a wonderful prize, she said that everyone got one! Though Woody Allen once said that 90 percent of success is just showing up, it’s the last 10 percent-the part that requires hard work, discipline, patience, and perseverance-that true success is all about. Children are being led to believe that, like Woody Allen’s view, they can become successful and feel good about themselves just for showing up. But showing up is just not enough in today’s demanding society. By rewarding children just for showing up, they aren’t learning what it really takes to become successful and showing up definitely won’t build self-esteem.

The supposed benefit of this mentality is that children’s self-esteem is protected. If children aren’t responsible for all of the bad things that happen to them, then they can’t feel bad about themselves and their self-esteem won’t be hurt. This belief has been bolstered by the culture of victimization in which we live-”It’s not my fault, it’s not my kid’s fault. But someone has to be held responsible and we’re going to sue them.” In its poorly conceived attempt to protect children’s self-esteem, our society caused the very thing that it took such pains to prevent-children with low self-esteem, no sense of responsibility, and the emotional and behavioral problems that go with it.

Of course children need to feel loved and protected. This sense of security allows them to feel comfortable venturing out to explore their  world. But we have gone way too far in protecting our children from life’s harsh realities. In fact, with this preoccupation with protecting our children, those so-called parenting experts neglected to tell parents about the other, equally important contributor to mature and healthy self-esteem.

The Missing Piece of Self-esteem

The second part of self-esteem that those parenting experts forgot to mention to parents is that children need to develop a sense of ownership of their actions, that their actions matter, that their actions have consequences; “If I do good things, good things happen, if I do bad things, bad things happen, and if I do nothing, nothing happens.” The antithesis of this approach is the spoiled child; whether they do good, bad, or nothing, they get what they want. Unfortunately, without this sense of ownership, children are thoroughly unprepared for the adulthood because in the real world our actions do have consequences.

This sense of ownership, and the self-esteem that accompanies it, is two sides of the same coin. If children don’t take ownership of their  mistakes and failures, they can’t have ownership of their successes and achievements. And without that ownership, children can’t ever really feel good about themselves or experience the meaning, satisfaction, and joy of owning their efforts. Also, without the willingness to take ownership, children are truly victims; they’re powerless to change the bad things that might happen to them. With a sense of ownership, children learn that when things are not going well, they have the power to make changes in their lives for the better.

The goal is to raise children with both components of real self-esteem, in which they not only feel loved and valued, but also have that highly developed sense of ownership. Yes, they’re going to feel bad when they make mistakes and fail. But you want your children to feel  bad when they screw up! How else are they going to learn what not to do and what they need to do to do better in the future? But, contrary to popular belief, these experiences will build, not hurt, their self-esteem. By allowing them to take ownership of their lives-achievements and missteps alike-your children gain the ability to change the bad experiences, and create and savor the good experiences.

Developing Real Self-esteem

Your challenge is to help your children understand how self-esteem develops. Much of your parenting should be devoted to helping your  children develop this healthy self-esteem rather than the false self-esteem that is epidemic in our society. You must allow your children to experience this connection-both success and failure-in all areas of their lives, including school, sports, the performing arts, relationships, family responsibilities, and other activities. Your children’s essential need to have these experiences will require you to eschew the culture of victimization that pervades modern society. You must give your children the opportunity to develop real self-esteem so they can fully experience all aspects of life, including the failures and disappointments as well as the accomplishments and joys.

Recommendations for Building Self-esteem

Love them regardless of how they perform.
Give them opportunities to demonstrate their competence.
Focus on areas over which they have control (e.g., their efforts rather than results).
Encourage your children to take appropriate risks.
Allow your children to experience failure and then help them learn its essential lessons.
Set expectations for their behavior.
Demand accountability.
Have consequences for bad behavior.
Include them in decision making.


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Yesterday, I attended a luncheon hosted by the Hope Christian Community Foundation. My buddy Chris Hill did an interview with one of my mentors, David Montague. David talks about giving and gives us a very clear picture of what it looks like to live out the Gospel through our finances. I must admit that early on (and still some now) Carrie and I made some poor decisions with our finances. I am so thankful that God placed guys like David Montague in my life to help guide me in that difficult area. I hope this encourages and challenges you to live out the Gospel through your finances.

What picture are you painting for your kids about giving?

Do they see a picture of the gospel in how you steward your money?

Be intentional about discussing with your kids how and why you give.

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imagesFrom an interview with Bill Farley, author of “The Gospel: the Key to Parenting.”

What does an offensive mind-set look like in parenting?
An offensive mindset targets the child’s heart not the child’s external environment (friends, music, school, etc.). In order to reach their child’s heart effective parents focus on their relationship with the child. Rather than fearing the world’s negative influence, they focus on the gospel’s power to influence their child. This parent worries more about their example to their child rather than the world’s example. This parent waits patiently for New Birth rather than assuming it because a child was baptized, or made a confession of faith at a summer camp.

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It was one of those conversations that you never forget. Our headmaster and I were having lunch with Joe Ehrmann, the subject of the book Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx. The topic of discussion was kids and sports. As the conversation lengthened, Joe made a comment that has stuck with me to this day. Joe told us that he thought “the most competitive sport in America is parenting.” I must say that the  behavior of parents really supports that his thoughts are on track. The more I think about it, the more I realize the need for us to create a New Normal when it comes to parenting. In order for us to change, we must struggle with these questions and pray for change in our families:

  • Why do we become more concerned with how our children compare to others than how intentional we are as parents?
  • Why are we worried more about what others think about our children than what God thinks?
  • Why are we more child-centered than God-centered when it comes to parenting?
  • Why do we parent more towards the worldly definition of success than we do the godly definition of success?

May our kids see us as imperfect parents who are delighted and satisfied in Christ alone. May our families be pictures of reconciliation.

In the words of Mark Batterson (with a tweak): “Don’t let what’s wrong with you or your kids keep you from worshiping what’s right with God.”

Let’s lead the charge of changing how parents are viewed. I would rather be known for being intentional than for being competitive.

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Each summer our family adopts a college student for the summer as part of a ministry called SOS. Check out what they are doing here. We will serve as a host family for a young man from Jackson, TN. We will be his home away from home. As I was thinking about this upcoming summer, I thought of some goals that we should have for our time with our SOS staffer. When I was in college, I always heard from parents that I needed to take their kids for a day and I would really see what it was like to be a parent. This was not meant to be a positive thing. I walked away with zero desire to be a parent if that was the type of person I would become. As I thought back to those conversations, I began to think about how we can be intentional and create a New Normal when it comes to setting examples:

  • What if we adopted a college student each summer with the goal of showing them how incredible marriage and parenting can be?
  • What if they saw continually what it means to love and serve your spouse?
  • What if we gave them a clear picture of what it looks like to be godly, intentional parents?
  • What would the next generation of families look like if we truly decided to invest in them and show them examples of godly marriages and families?

Let’s create a New Normal and give the next generation of parents and families a picture of what it means to love our spouses and raise our children to the glory of God! Go adopt a college student and be intentional!

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I was reading over my notes from a book I read several months ago and I ran across some things that I think we can apply as parents. The book is Ordering Your Private World by Gordon Macdonald. I was reading over my notes about living as a called person. I thought we could use Macdonald’s list and apply it as we seek to be intentional parents.

A called person (insert parent):

  • Understands stewardship
  • Knows exactly who they are
  • Possesses an unwavering sense of purpose
  • Practices unswerving commitment
  • Submits to God’s ways, God’s methods, and God’s criteria for success
  • Embraces littleness, hiddenness, and powerlessness

Thinking in terms of modeling this to your family, how do you measure up?

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My wife Carrie went with Bennett on a field trip yesterday. The class took a trip to Lichterman Nature Center here in Memphis. They had a great day together.

After Bennett’s explanation of the trip, Carrie mentioned to me something very interesting that she observed. As they were walking along, they came upon some geese. As the group of boys and their moms approached them, the pair of geese began hissing at the group and became very agitated.

The tour guide told the group that geese are very protective (can’t say I blame them with a group of 6-7 year old boys around). Since I was not familiar with the habits of geese, I decided to do a little research myself to see what the big deal was.

Here are a few statements that I found to be noteworthy:

Because of their strong family attachments and pair-bonding between adults, geese will vigorously defend both nests and chicks—a species characteristic that often leads to conflicts with people.”

Pairs of Canada Geese stake out a territory early Pin the spring and begin the construction of their nest. They will defend their nesting territory and young with vigor against other geese, animals, and people. Woe to the nonobservant walker who gets too close to the nest.”

Unlike the unfaithful drake Mallard, the male Canada Goose sticks around to help defend and watch over the young. This is why you often see a family of geese strung out single file, with a parent at each end.”

WOW! As I read this info, I began to look at how I lead my family.

  • Do I allow a worldly vision to creep into our home or do I defend against it?
  • Do I take initiative and show them daily a life that is lived out for God’s glory?
  • When worldly visions are put in front of them, do I take the time to discuss it with them and show them how God’s Word speaks to that particular issue?
  • Have I become so passive in my parenting that I allow too many things to slip in without any defense?
  • Are Carrie and I on the same page and parenting together with one of us “on each end” of the line?
  • Am I giving my boys a Godly picture of manhood by leading my family and rejecting passivity?
  • Am I willing to defend my family with vigor or simply settle into  a life of mediocrity?

I am ready to see a new generation of parents that are willing to stand up and create a New Normal for their family!

Let’s take a parenting lesson from the geese and start taking initiative for the benefit of our families!

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