We are our children’s window to the world. The way we behave, present ourselves physically and emotionally and the value we put on ourselves, are all taken in and assimilated by our children. We are their model of how to be a person. Now of course every child has their own personality, level of intelligence and physical attributes that make them unique, and ultimately shape the decision they make and paths they chose. But we are their first block in the tower and that block stays with them throughout their lives.
Self esteem is such a loaded term. I think that both men and woman struggle with it at some point in there lives, some even all of it. It seems so unnatural or difficult to think of yourself in a positive and endearing manner and yet it is so very important to do so. I know that care givers, like parents have a hard time being “selfish”. Putting yourself first is a challenge when you have another person’s life in your hands, as you do when you are a parent. Making choices that give you the time for pleasure, peace, and good health, can seem so difficult when it comes right down to it. The truth is that you cannot have true happiness if you don’t make time for these things, and worse than that you are teaching your children that it is wrong to take care of yourself, setting them up for the same fate you suffer now. If you don’t value yourself worthy of these things you can’t possibly teach your children how to value themselves. I tough lesson to learn and a cycle that can seem never-ending.
Before you get down on yourself or even mad at me for pointing this out, this is no new idea. In fact there are several old sayings about it. And no I am not speaking from the high horse of perfection and self-love! I am the worst person for not taking care of myself, something my loved ones can attest to. Recently however I have begun to see that how I treat myself not only affects how the world sees me, but also how my children see me, and is giving them a lesson of self-depreciation. We are not “bad” people or parents for wanting to take care of ourselves. In fact we are showing them self-worth.
We worry about our girls having eating disorders and body image issues. Our boys not feeling masculine enough and getting picked on. Bullying is plastered all over the news now, having been drawn from the shadows. Kids are using drugs out of medicine cabinets to escape life. We lead complicated lives and our children will be faced with many challenges and hard choices, but if we can give them the gift of a good self-image, or self-worth because we mirrored that to them in our own behavior, then perhaps we can give them the strength to make it through. Telling them how wonderful they are and loving them wholeheartedly is not enough. We need to model for them the power of loving yourself, because consciously or unconsciously, they are using us as their guide.