Championing Love

My youngest son’s middle name is Matan, Hebrew for gift. I’ve told him all his life he is a gift from God.

My eldest son is looking so mature these days – I can still see the little baby boy I remember from years ago but his features are becoming more adolescent, more handsome boy. I hold his face in my hands and remark about how beautiful he is, tell him I love him.

My daughter sidles up to me for a hug. We kiss and cuddle, I tell her she is gorgeous. I tell her she’s smart. I remark on her strength and toughness, her independence, her strong voice.

The other day, my friend told her son how handsome he was. She does this routinely, takes every opportunity to share with him how much he is loved, how special he is, how beautiful, how remarkable, how truly unique.

Her mother pulled her aside and said, “You’ve got to stop talking to him like that.”

Um, excuse me? She wondered what her mother was talking about and inquired, only to hear, “The whole world isn’t going to feel that way about him, and he’d better get used to it.”

Ah….light bulb. If we have any residual self-esteem or confidence issues from childhood, perhaps they emanate from a perspective like this? From the idea that too much love would “spoil” a child? That basking in the glow of our children’s great qualities, unique characteristics and special traits would give them a big head and an unrealistic perspective on their abysmal worth in the world?

Sorry, but those old family stories have got to stop with this generation.

So many women my age feel they’re not good enough, and that low self-worth undoubtedly comes from years of being told as much. When was the last time someone close to you told you you’re beautiful? Brilliant? Special?

What was your running storyline as a child? Bossy? Too quiet? Shy? Awkward?

There is something counter-intuitive – almost scary – about believing that if you build up your children with the truth about their greatness, they won’t be able to face the world.

Sure, there is enough hatred and lack of acceptance out there that every person eventually needs to deal with it. But imagine doing so if you’re steeled with confidence from the start, so that if someone takes issue with you, you don’t let it chip away at your vision of yourself.

In yoga, the navel center or core strength is said to relate to self-worth and self-esteem. Interesting, that in this nation, belly fat is a chronic problem. Most of us are weakest at our core. What a pity.

This subconscious storytelling from earliest childhood chips away at what could be a strong center.

But the good news is that you can change the story any time you wake up. Hit adulthood or even earlier if you’re lucky, and change the storyline. Shut out the negative voices and connect with source, where the truth resides.

And what is truth?

Anything can be viewed through a lens of good or a lens of bad. Your bossy, brash exterior? Leader! Independent! Strong-minded! Your shyness? Careful observation of the world around you!

Spin it any way you want. That’s the brilliance of owning your identity. You get to choose who you are and what your natural qualities really mean.

Don’t let someone else write an unhappy, depressed, self-hating ending. Write your own.

It IS that easy.

  1 comment for “Championing Love

  1. August 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I can really relate to this post, Lynne. I often wonder how much praise is too much. I never give false praise to the kids, I don’t feel like it’s okay to embellish things to build their self-esteem; but I do tell them often how beautiful and amazing they are. And when they accomplish a goal, they get plenty of praise for that, of course.
    My parents had two children. Me and my brother. My brother was born with a cleft palate and immediately required more attention than me. As time went on, we learned that he had some learning disabilities and was the first person I ever met who got an ADD diagnosis.

    My brother’s needs and behavior always overshadowed mine. I was the straight A student. I was the one who followed all the rules, and yet- I was very rarely acknowledged for my achievements. It was all overshadowed by my brother’s needs and problems and bad behavior.
    That really did a number on my psyche, as I’m sure you can imagine.

    I’m 37 years old and I’m still struggling with the effects of growing up and not being praised or acknowledged for most of my achievements. I wasn’t called beautiful. I wasn’t praised for my positive attributes. On the contrary, my father would tease me often about my imperfections. And it seemed like the only time I got attention as an adolescent was when I made a mistake.

    I’m not trying to get all into my life-long sob story here, but I am trying to make a point. I know what happens when kids aren’t given praise and acknowledgement. I know what kind of people they grow up to be. I am not going to allow my children; especially my son, grow up to feel like I do. I will tell him every day how much he is loved and how beautiful and miraculous his life is. I will smile and tell him that his art work is fantastic, because it truly is! I will always be honest and loving with my kids. And hopefully, by the grace of the universe, they’ll grow up and be armed with the confidence and self-esteem they’ll need to make their way through this world.

    God knows I don’t have those things, and I cannot bear the idea of my boy(s) not having them either. So, no. I do not believe in the concept of too much praise or love. I believe it is vital.
    Thanks for this post. Sorry about the long, ranty comment. This is one of those subjects I feel very passionately about. xoxo

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