What is your definition of success?
According to the Oxford dictionary, “it is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”
I like to think of success, therefore as the accomplishment of God’s aim or purpose in creating me. So, it is left to me to find out what that aim or goal is and accomplish it. Most parents have mapped out what they want their children to become or what they think the children are good at, but they do not stop to think about what God wants for the child.
Nowadays, children are judged from Kindergarten by their teachers and parents, on how much they know how to read and write and not trained on the soft skills they require. Some teachers are not willing to put in the work, and some parents have no time to follow through, they don’t want their children to look bad in front of people. So, these children grow up with all sorts of weights and expectations, and as they grow, they add their own. Some become perfectionists, and others just become the black sheep when they see that they cannot meet the expectations placed on them.
Adults need to understand that children have a lot on their plate these days. From their parents, teachers, friends, the media, and what they need are places of rest. Places where they feel safe and learn to accept that they are okay the way they are. Where they are taught who they are in God.
That’s where self-awareness and self-esteem come in.
What is self-awareness?
According to the Oxford dictionary, “it is the conscious knowledge of one’s character and feelings.”
I believe it is knowledge of one’s self. We all grow up trained and expected to be good. What is good? The bible records that Jesus said that only God is good (Mark10:18). To my understanding, we need to accept and work with God on our strengths and weaknesses.
Everybody has them; scripture says that first comes the natural person before the spiritual (1 Cor 15:42-49). If God has created us for a purpose, then He will empower us to accomplish it, regardless of who we are. All the saints mentioned in the bible had weaknesses, but God was able to use them regardless because they related to Him as Father and God. It is our duty, therefore, to train our children to understand that they may not be perfect, but that we love them for who they are and eventually who God’s call will make them.
What is self-esteem?
According to the Oxford dictionary, “It is confidence in one’s worth or abilities; self-respect.”
How do we help our children attain this, do we as parents esteem ourselves highly? Children suffer from self-esteem issues due to a lot of factors like weight issues, poor financial background, the way they are spoken to or addressed by their parents, teachers or people they admire and respect, etc. We need to take the time to help the children build their self-worth, and we start by explaining to them who they are in God and what God says about them. We cannot allow external influences and culture to beat us to it, or they lose their way. We need to make them understand that they are beautiful, intelligent, and blessed just the way they are.
Let’s use the training of a girl child as an example.
In Nigeria, where I come from, girls are expected to be able to do chores from an early age, cook and clean as they grow older, generally be ready for marriage by the time they are eighteen and above. In the times we live in, girls are expected to be like boys, in addition to the chores, cleaning, and cooking duties. They are expected to be better software developers, entrepreneurs, and executives in the business world, so their parents get them started early. Now I have no problem with this; it is good to get them started on time, but do they know who they are and the original purpose of their creation?
I see people ask questions like, “who am I, what am I here for?”, years after college, after their degrees, after they have gone far in their careers because they are lost.
There is a purpose for every girl child, and I believe the parents are to help them find and accomplish it. Let her know that her mission is higher and more significant than what you could wish for her and pray to God with her to reveal it.
My next question is, does she know she is beautiful?
People define beauty by a lot of factors, but I look at my daughter, and I see true beauty. Not just because she has the most beautiful eyes, or smallest of noses and the loveliest lips, but because she is the image and likeness of God. So, when I look at her, I see God, and this is the definition I will give her for beauty.
When she becomes aware of the need to dress up, I will lead her by the hand and guide her as God’s Spirit influences me. At every level of her growth, I will ask God to lead me to teach her aright.
Then, what are the necessary skills a girl requires to succeed?
Does she need to learn to do chores, cook, and clean? I say yes, but so do the boys and every human being, to survive. I will teach my daughter to do these things not because she is a girl, and doing so will help her in her married life, but she is doing them for herself. To be independent and capable, no matter where she is.
The list of expectations heaped on girls are more than on the boys and its high time; we start looking into these burdens and figuring out ways to remove them.
So what are the challenges for today?
- What expectations have you placed on your children or have thought about putting on them, are you doing what God wants?
- Are you self-aware enough to help your children through their self-awareness process?
- Do your children have high self-worth? If not, how can you help?
- What training are you giving your children, girls, and boys, is it as led by God’s Spirit?
Till next time, be transformed!