I took a little thousand-mile (all right, 950, close enough) road trip on Sunday-Monday.
I'm a music addict behind the wheel, so I spent a fair amount of time skimming what used to be called "the radio dial" for something to amuse my ears. (I don't do well with audio-shiurim while driving; either I pay too much attention to the shiur, or too little...)
One find was a country song called "International Harvester," which I found very funny. It's exactly the kind of song I imagine when people talk about country music - an amusing set of lyrics about rural life, with a rude gesture toward people who don't like it.
I also heard way too many stations broadcasting Rush, Michael, Glen et al. I can't listen to them; often I disagree, but even when I do agree, it's still painful. It's like listening to someone exaggerating my own views to the point of parody.
And I heard an interview with a parenting expert who pontificated about how we coddle, pamper and otherwise spoil our children entirely too much. That one really set me off.
I do believe that many people do pamper their children too much, but I was annoyed by the way the interviewer played down the need for parents to build their children's self-esteem. Our battles for the esteem of others pale in comparison with our battle for our own self-respect, and particularly in our adolescent years.
If we want our children to be Avraham and Sarah, striking out on their own with confidence in both Revelation and Vision, we had better provide them with self-esteem.
If we want our children to be Sarah and Rivkah, boldly protecting their progeny and shaping the next generation, we had better provide them with self-esteem.
If we want our children to be Yehoshua and Kalev, bucking the Meraglim [Spies], we had better provide them with self-esteem.
The anti-self-esteem line of thinking reminded me of a post by Therapydoc last week, available here, on the misguided notion of promoting humility by tearing kids down. As she put it, "[A] little humility is a good thing, but beat the "I" out of a kid only if you want that kid to forever compare himself and come up short. Any beating will do, to facilitate low self-esteem. Just name your abuse of the day-- emotional, verbal, physical, financial, sexual-- they'll all do the job."
TD noted a few of the reasons why we so easily develop low self-esteem, including:
(1) The way we compare ourselves to others;
(2) The toll of failure;
(3) Lack of praise from others.
All true; we've all seen it. And in the comments on her post, I added a fourth based on my own experience, and TD esteemed it enough that I think I'll include it here:
(4) Another cause for unrealistically low self-esteem, in my experience: We live with knowledge of our flaws, and we see the damage they cause for us. Other people tend to be more forgiving of these defects (or, at least, less concerned than we are).
Humility is a good thing, and our children need it, and we must help them develop it - but not at the expense of self-respect.
Just something to think about, fruits of a long drive.