There’s a great post on Libby Anne’s blog that deals with praising children. It would seem she stumbled across a blog post that outright decried praising, in which the author seems to think that self esteem is a bad thing. From example:
As much as it hurts me – feel less than. Esteem not yourself. Feel lonely. Feel unworthy. Feel unaccomplished. Feel small. Feel lost. Feel broken.
For if you believe you are greater than, your father and I have failed miserably. Among the broken you will find Christ. My prayer for you is that you see Him everywhere. There’s no where to go but down if we as a society continue to treat mediocrity as mighty. If you are never uncomfortable, weary, left out and un-praised how will you recognize the desolate? And if you are never desolate how will you recognize how much you need a Savior?
Libby Anne does a pretty good take down on this idea but I want to take it a step further. You see, I was one of those kids who was made to “feel least”.
It did absolutely nothing for me, except make me feel worse. All I felt was unworthy, lonely and miserable. There was nothing good about my suffering.
When I was a kid, I felt that nothing I did was ever good enough. It was very rare for me to hear the words “Good job!” or get any praise at all. My parents, being the Christian sort, believed that pride goeth before the fall and made sure to not praise me. They didn’t want me to get a swelled head or feel that I was entitled to much of anything. So it was very rare that I got any positive feedback; if anything, I mostly got negative. (To this day, I can still remember how critical my mother was of my grades and how upset I got during my senior year of high school. I was flunking out of a math class that I didn’t want to take and could not understand any of its basic concepts.)
Most of the time, I was told I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough and I wasn’t worth anything. Those words still stay with me to this day.
I have massive self esteem issues, so many that I could probably write the definitive volume on all of them. I often think that no, I’m not worthy of anything better because I as a person am not worthy. When I brought home a report card that showed I was failing math, I felt less than. When I gave my performances during drama and say my mother praising every other student and not me, I felt less than. When my mother got angry with me for whatever reason and said I “wasn’t worth two cents”, I felt less than. When I told my mother what I knew of North Carolina law and she swore she knew better than my professor–a former sheriff–I felt less than. I have always felt less than and quite frankly, I’m tired of it. For once, I’d like to actually feel somewhat accomplished in this life and maybe feel good about myself. Is that too much to ask?
And to be quite honest, if I have to be so utterly and completely broken that I “need” a Savior, I think I’ll stay far, far away from that sort of belief system, thank you.