Making our children responsible for our self-esteem
When my younger son was in second grade, he scored a 92% on a test. But what I saw was the eight percent that he missed, “How could you miss 4 questions?” He was hurt and asked me why I didn’t see the 92% that he got right. I defended my answer, “You should have gotten them all right.” My low self-esteem over shadowed his pain. Instead of supporting him, I expected him to support me.
Somewhere buried within me was the hope that if my children did well in school, music, sports, etc. that would make me feel better. I thought, “If my children are well behaved and successful, I must be worth more than I feel I am.” But their success only relieved my painful feelings temporarily.
The next less than perfect test score, missed note or goal dropped me back into my own reality. Now I wish I had focused on understanding how they felt and either celebrated their accomplishments with them or helped them understand that failure is a learning opportunity.
I have learned that my self-esteem is my responsibility and is not dependent upon how my children preform or behave. That has lifted a unfair burden off them and improved our relationship.
Also it has freed me because I no longer second guest their decisions nor feel deflated by their mistakes. I’ve come to respect that they know their situation far better than I do.
We may have made our children responsible for our self-worth because that is what we learned growing up–our parents made us responsible for theirs. But it is never too late to change and start supporting our children be they toddlers or adults.