When I was an EA working in a private school, I watched a video about kids and self esteem. I can't remember all of the details, there was something about blueberry pancakes and poker chips, but the essence of the video was that a kid's self-esteem is like a bank. Parents make deposits in their child's account and send them off to school. Each negative encounter a child has throughout the day is like a withdrawal on their account and the onus falls on teachers to make sure that they are making deposits into their students' accounts so the kids won't be 'bankrupt' by the end of the day.
That message has stuck with me for 13 years. When Dude started school I made a promise to myself that no matter how obnoxious he was in the morning (this later went on to include Crafty and Mischief), I will do my best to ensure he leaves the house every day with a full bank. With the help of super-human self control and a great deal of coffee, I can say that I have about a 99% success rate.
Today was the 1% morning. This morning I had a less than stellar parenting moment which, in and of itself is nothing new. My life is a series of one parenting misstep after another, but 'losing it' before school is just not acceptable. When this happens I feel like I am robbing the kids at gunpoint rather than making the generous deposit that I had planned on.
This morning when Dude flipped out about his unfinished homework, I flipped out about him flipping out. It wasn't pretty. Once we both calmed down, we had a chat, forgave each other and then I took the kids to school. He seemed like he was in a good space when I dropped him off but that didn't stop me from feeling bad that I set him up for a rough day.
I was feeling pretty crummy when I got home and as the coffee brewed I flipped on the TV. One of the morning shows was running an interview with a woman who wrote a memoir. She was saying that in her Chinese culture, parents assume children have strength but what she has observed in the western world is that parents assume their children are weak, therefore they tend to coddle and shield their children.
In that moment, all these random thoughts in my brain came together to form one IGIM (I Got It Moment). Am I raising my kids with the assumption that they are strong or that they are weak? Do I spend more time protecting them from life than equipping them for it?
I'd like to think that I am teaching my children the lessons they need to know so that they can grow up to be compassionate, successful and happy adults but do I have more fear of their weakness than I have faith in their strength?
I still believe that I need to do my best to ensure the kids leave for school, and life, happy, peaceful and confident but not because I am afraid that if I don't they will suffer because they are innately weak. I need to encourage them and build them up because they are innately strong and if I believe in them and their strength, they will believe in it to.
I found this quote and used it on my other blog yesterday...it is my hope and prayer for my kids...the mantra I want them to carry in their hearts. Its the truth of their own strength...
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself.”
Harvey S. Firestone