Healthy self-esteem has nothing to do with performance, although you wouldn’t know it in our culture. Giving all the children in the class the same grades so that no one gets their feelings hurt doesn’t prepare any child for the real world they will face… and we are supposed to be preparing them for the real world aren’t we? That’s like telling everyone on the middle school basket ball team that they really are the same height, some just look shorter.
The phrase, “self-esteem” is merely a diagnostic term. How has the child learned to assess himself? How has the child learned to appraise his or her worth?
“Learned” is the key word. We go through a process of learning to appraise our own worthiness or value when comparing ourselves to the people around us. Our “American Idol” culture imposes a self-esteem definition that screams you are worthy according to your performance or personal appearance.
Yet, God tells each of us that He loved us unconditionally even when we were performing at our worst. And as far as beauty is concerned we were each awesomely designed and created (Psalm 139:14). The battle today’s parent faces is to train each child to understand the proper paradigm for appraising personal worth.
The pursuit of excellence in performance is important and even fun, but it can’t be allowed to be seen as defining personal worth. Every child needs to grow up knowing she is special for who she is…not for what she can do or how she looks.
Tomorrow: What part does a parent play in the development of a healthy self-esteem?