For several years, my oldest daughter and I have had “the pink book.” It’s just a cheap journal that I’m sure I purchased from a clearance table somewhere. We share the journal; I write something in it and slip it under her pillow. She responds and I puts it under my pillow. Back and forth, year after year, we’ve done this.
I was pleased when my 6-year-old asked if she could also have a pink book. It’s so fun to see what their little minds come up with to write about.
When I got into bed that night, I saw the new pink book sticking out from under my pillow. Already smiling, I opened it up and read the first entry.
I think I have a big belly.
I read those seven little words over and over. Was this something that had been bothering her and I never knew? She’d never mentioned it. Was she sad about it? My mind raced as every insecurity I had ever had rose to the surface—especially my insecurities as a mom. Had I not done enough to instill confidence in her? I’d made sure I’d told her constantly that she’s beautiful.
The next morning, I asked her about the entry. I was prepared for a serious conversation on body image. Much to my surprise, however, she laughed. “I was just being funny, Mom. Look, I can make a face with my belly button.”
She ran out of the room and on to the next thing. I fear that there’s just no mastering this motherhood thing. There’s always something to remind me that I have no idea what I’m doing. This episode, however, made me realize something about my parenting.
I was obsessed with my daughters’ self-confidence. I was terrified that they’d grow up insecure. I’d been parenting out of that fear.
Self-Esteem: A Dead-End Street
We live in a world obsessed with making our children feel good about themselves. Teachers aren’t allowed to grade papers with red ink pens because the color is harsh and may hurt a child’s self-esteem. Children receive mixed messages.
On one hand, they’re told that if they work hard enough, they can do and be anything. Yet, on the other hand, they’re growing up in a “participation trophy” society where everyone is rewarded regardless of effort. All you have to do is show up. After all, we don’t want anyone’s pride to be wounded.
Self-confidence is king—except it’s not.
We do our children a great disservice when we encourage them to place all their confidence in self. The reality is that they can’t do anything they want to do. I, for instance, would love to be able to sing. Sadly, I’m tone deaf, and that isn’t going to change no matter how much I believe in myself.
Confidence is a good thing. We don’t, however, want our children to find their self-worth in their abilities.
The same is true with body image. We want our children to have a healthy body image, but it can’t be their everything. If that’s where all of their confidence is found, what happens when things begin to expand and sag? Neither do we want our children finding their value in their role as child, spouse, or parent.
We would only have to speak with a widow or empty nester to find the problem here. Children grow and begin families of their own. Spouses pass away or, sometimes, choose to walk away. What happens to their self-esteem then?
We must teach our children to place their confidence in Christ.
They must find their self-worth in their relationship with Him. Only then will they be able to keep their footing in this shaky, ever-changing world. We don’t need more confident kids. We need kids who are confident in Christ. We need to raise a generation bold in its faith and sure of its Savior: How do we do this?
The Better Way
We must live out our faith—the good, the bad, and the ugly—in front of our children. It’s good to take them to Sunday School. It’s wonderful to have them memorize Scripture. It’s also important, however, that they witness our daily walk of faith.
If all they ever know is Sunday morning, what will they do when the trials come? What choices will they make when a child gets sick or a parent passes away or a spouse walks out? It’s OK for our children to see us do the hard stuff.
Recently, one of my children was a completing a worksheet from her church class. One of the questions was, Why is it important to obey God? It was a great question, and I was curious to hear her answer: This was her response, “It’s important to obey because then your life will be easy.” And all God’s people laughed.
Sadly, this is a common misconception. Part of the problem is that we’re so concerned with appearances. We get dressed up, paste smiles on our faces, and sing like we don’t have a care in the world.
The reality is, however, that life is difficult. We struggle. We get hurt. We fall down. Our kids need to see a faith that falls down, gets back up, and keeps going.
When they see that, they begin to develop a confidence in Christ’s ability to sustain the weary. They learn to trust Him when the way isn’t easy.
We must also teach our children that Jesus Christ isn’t a walk-away Joe.
People can be fickle. Today, with a click of a mouse, someone can “unfriend” a person they’ve known for 20 years. The one who praises you today can be the one who persecutes you tomorrow. Relationships are treated as disposable, which can make a person feel insecure about any relationship.
Our kids need to know that God loves them with an everlasting, enduring, never-going-to-leave-them kind of love.
They need to know that there isn’t anything they can do, no mistake they can make, no place they can go that will make Him walk away. They can be confident in His love for them. They can trust Him with their hearts, their dreams, and their lives.
We want confident kids. Let’s just make sure they find their confidence in the right place.
“For You are my hope, LORD God, my confidence from my youth” (Psalm 71:5).
Article courtesy of HomeLife Magazine
Stacy Edwards is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She and her husband, Michael, have five daughters. An avid blogger, you can read more about her at servantslife.com.