In modern philosophies, ever increasing affirmation of self esteem is key in educational and parenting philosophies and in general society through political correctness (not offending anyone) and relativism (everyone is right in whatever they think).
Self esteem can be easily be knocked – by appearance (in a world of ever increasing beauty ideals), by hormones, by peers, by test scores, by sports games and by criticism.
As the quote to the right says “Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry.” – Alvin Price.
Although I haven’t read Alvin Price’s work, I disagree with the quote above.
Don’t get me wrong, self esteem isn’t a bad thing. However, when this becomes the primary goal where self esteem is central and people are never wrong, this becomes egoism pure and simple.
Parents who aim to solely fill a child’s bucket of self esteem will fill them with unreal expectations that the world was created for them and that they can do no wrong. I recently spoke to a former teacher who said that one of the reasons she left teaching was she found that parents and children were becoming so hard to deal with. They thought the sun shone from them. Parents couldn’t see what their children were really like, and children were arrogant, hard to correct and couldn’t deal with failure. Although our education system has removed “fail” from its vocabulary.
The lack of dealing with failure is evident in the high suicide, depression and substance abuse rates with our teens. 80 teens (15-19 year old age group) commited suicide last year in New Zealand, compared with 56 the year before.
Its hard work to constantly need to be full of “you”, when the world tries to “poke holes in you”. The world pokes holes to make you a better person. To refine you. Being unknockable creates vanity and pride.
Better than self esteem is the Truth that each and everyone is created by God with Purpose. That each one of us is of value as a child of God who was created with love in the image and likeness of the creator. This love comes from an external source.
We are filled by giving. God created you for love. To recieve love and to give love. As Mother Theresa once said “For love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.”
Everything is temporary. A child who is built up on their skill at sport, their good looks, their IQ, their friends, by their parents – all that could be gone in an instant.
The knowledge that you were created by a higher power for a specific purpose is an adventure. A mission to find out what God created you for, to fill yourself with passion, to give that gift back to those you meet through love. No matter the setback, the hurt, the loss. You are going to fail. There will be peaks and troughs. Christ’s life was filled with sufferings and temptations but in that suffering he was able to rejoice because he was doing God’s will. You were made for more that this. You were made for eternity. Life is a small trial compared to the promise of eternal happiness beyond.
All you have to lose is that God mightn’t exist. But what if he does?