No one wants to raise an emotionally scarred child. But is your child’s self esteem as fragile as you’ve been led to believe? If you don’t recognize and applaud every achievement, will they suffer for your lack of enthusiasm?

The self esteem movement goes against everything the Bible teaches us about the nature of man, and the way of salvation. If we truly believe the Word, there is not much danger of us thinking too little of ourselves..

Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church

Do we believe the Word is true?

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Doesn’t sound too much like thinking too little of ourselves is likely to be a problem, does it?

What exactly does the Word say about us? Does it teach us that we need to love ourselves more, and encourage our children in the same? Should we be teaching our children to “believe in yourself”, or how about to, “be true to yourself”? Is life really about developing the gifts and talents God gave you? Finding your purpose?

Is it possible that life is really about being;

  • obedient, eph 6:1, col 3:22, 2 thes 3:14, hbr 13;17
  • humble, prov 6:3, 16:19, 29:23, mat 23:12, jam 4:10
  • dying to self, john 12:24, acts 21:13, rom 8:13
  • losing your own life, mark 8:35, mat 16:25, luke 9:14, 17:33,
  • being of no reputation, phil 2:7
  • preferring one another, romans 12:10
  • being hated by the world, luke 21:17, john 15:24,25, john 17:14

That does not sound like a self esteem book that will be flying off the shelves, snapped up by parents wanting the best for the “mini-me” in their lives.

When my children were very young, I wrote some goals in the hope of having a plan to raise them by. This was back before the praise-you-for-anything insanity started, but “self esteem” was in every second self help and parenting book title. At the time, it seemed wrong to analyze every word I spoke to my darling, to see if it may damage her fragile “self esteem”. Experts told us that almost anything we said or did, had the potential to crush her fragile perception of her worth, and leave her crippled emotionally for life.

I am no psychologist, but I knew that my child, as all children everywhere, was born completely self centred and self absorbed.

The mantra of every toddler is…“It’s mine!”

Call me old fashioned, but my goals were to train my child to love God, to think of others, to delay gratification, and to work hard. I can’t see how telling her everyday that she is beautiful, talented, and clever is going to achieve that.

My hope is that I will be able to teach them who they are, and their worth, in the light of scripture. They are sinners. In Christ, they are a new creation, adopted by God, joint heirs with Christ. This is not dependent on how they measure up to the world’s standard of success, or on how beautiful, smart, funny, sporty, or popular they are.

It is not something they can lose with age or failure, nor can any person take it from them.

Isn’t that worth more than all the empty praise, all the “good work” stickers, and the “you’re so clever” comments?