As a child of the ’70s, I grew up in the ’80s where Baby Boomers were loving life, loving love and loving themselves. This translated to every area of life, including their parenting. The seeds of self-esteem were laid by my parents’ generation and have taken full root in my generation. It’s this idea that kids need to have a positive outlook in life; they need to love themselves. While in limited ways this can be true, the pervasiveness of this idea is killing the collective conscience of our country and is ruining our kids.
My parents were not primarily concerned with my self-esteem; for that I am thankful. I remember my mom saying something to me when I was younger that always stuck with me. She said that she and my father were not concerned with how our peers felt about us—they would always watch how adults interacted with us and would listen for the assessments adults had of us. Why? Because my parents were more concerned with our self-awareness than our self-esteem.
How kids interact with adults is a great (not perfect) indicator of how self-aware your kids are. So many parents today are concerned with their kids having friends, their kids having the right kinds of friends, their kids not getting their feelings hurt by their friends—because they want their kids to have good self-esteem, because they love their kids. But they are doing their kids a disservice. Parents today take their kids’ side over the word of another adult because they don’t want to crush their kids. In doing this, they are eroding the very things that will make kids successful in life. I am all for good self-esteem and smarts in school, but what makes you successful in life is self-awareness. And here is the truth: Parents so often totally miss that when you raise a kid who is self-aware, you get self-esteem thrown in, but if you try to raise a kid who simply has good self-esteem, you get neither.
Three reasons why self-awareness should matter to parents
1. Self-awareness produces confidence in your kids, and confidence produces self-esteem.
2. Self-awareness makes your kids others-focused because they become confident and understand their strengths and limitations. It allows them to flourish and not have to pretend, lie, cheat or steal to be something they wish they were and not who they really are.
3. Self-awareness allows your kids to see themselves as the desperate sinners they are. When you are aware of who you are in Christ, you have a desperate confidence. You understand that you are a desperate sinner but have a confidence in a sinless savior. Kids who have learned to nurture their self-esteem run from the cross; those who are self-aware run to it.
This article originally appeared here.