Monday, February 27, 2012

Choosing honesty over self-esteem

Is it just me? Or do you find yourself in those terrible places where you have to choose between building your child up, and letting them down - by being honest? 

It starts when they're two. Those big eyes look up at you as they hold up their latest masterpiece, and you exclaim with great wonderment - how did they become such an artist? Or perhaps it was when they were still one, and you remark on the fabulous kick, when their big toe did actually connect briefly with the ball...

Before you know it you are relieved they can count to ten, and excited they can read the word 'the'. And you tell them so. Their eyes shine and their little faces light up. They feel special. 

You try to make sure you are making many more comments about their character. About the people they are becoming. Though with homework, sport, much conversation seems to be focussed on the 'doing' rather than the 'being'. Okay, occasionally punctuated by the reprimands for the faults in character. Wrong, wrong, wrong emphasis.

I find myself with boys who are growing up. A couple of nights ago there were tears. Torrents, actually. About not being recognised for the sporting prowess that is very much present as far as he is concerned. Absolutely indignant about it all. I hesitated for a moment, before - hopefully gently- pointing out his view of himself was perhaps skewed on this occasion. That really, the coach was making a reasonable decision.

And his heart broke.

Of course I followed up with attempts to console, encourage...

But I do believe my boy was disappointed in me. That his own mother doesn't think he's the best in the team, was devastating. And it was the split second decision, as to whether to let the comments slide. I couldn't. Because I think it's worse to believe you're the best in the team when you're not, than to not be the best in the team. Much more to learn when you live in reality.

There are some basic rules of communication. Say something positive before the negative. Speak encouragement and affirmation into people's lives. Love.

I'm not convinced I made the right choice. But he's not two, and he can count to ten. Surely there's no point in going out into the world with an unrealistic view. Yet there is the argument that you should only build up your children, because the rest of the world will be busy tearing them down. I'm not sure I fully agree.

What about you? Have you disappointed your children when instilling some reality?
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
 ...rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. Proverbs 9:9
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 13:18

Giving thanks:
  • 80's parties. A great excuse to dance with my groom.
  • A little boy teaching the littlest boy fractions. With passion.
  • A progressive dinner with nearly 50 people - and seven apartments/countries to visit.
  • Seeing the boys surrounded by new friends. And loving it.
  • Flowers behind my ear from my sons.
  • Sitting on the balcony, chatting.
  • A coffee and good conversation with two new, and lovely, women.
  • Gifting my groom a morning off from soccer.
  • Chances to be honest. And loving. At the same time.
  • Loving every bit of uni reading.


  1. Oh, I wish I'd been at your 80s party! I would have donned my parachute pants and some neon pink socks :) I appreciate your wisdom in this post today. Thanks for stopping by The Overflow, too!

  2. Thanks Alicia. The party was great - those pants and socks would have been perfect - it was very funny!