I won my soccer match
When my son of eight came and announced that he’d won his soccer match, I thought that I must have miss heard. “I didn’t know that you had a chess match today” I replied. “It was a soccer match” said he even more insistently. “I did not know that soccer was a solo sport I said,” He said that it was not but continued to insist that it was he who had won his soccer match.
I challenged him with the question, that if soccer is a team sport, how does one person win the soccer match. “I scored the only goal” was his triumphant reply. “How did you get the ball, did the opposing team not have a goalie positioned at the nets?” I asked. He started to get the point.
The point for me, was recognising a blind spot in the personality make up of a growing child, that if not corrected, could become the basis of a belief system and approach to life that could one day cause him and those around him a lot of grief.
Many might say, that correcting him in the way that I did could crush his spirit. I would argue that when someone is able to be honest with themselves and be bigger than they feel like being when challenged, grows their self esteem. Mastery over ones selfish impulses, immature reactions and temptation to betray ones higher values are what promote good self esteem.
For this reason, I give my children straight, honest, elaborate but also loving and affirming feedback, so that they can learn to see themselves clearly and work with their self awareness. I would say that insight into oneself is one of the greatest and most useful powers and certainly a prerequisite of true greatness.
In my view, humility means having yourself in true perspective. That means knowing your strengths and talents so that you can build on them and express you potential in the world. At the same time you have to know you short comings because those ore the true edges where our growth potential lies.
To tell children that they are loves, wanted and valued for who they are is most certainly essential to good parenting. Children however, can only feel really loved for who they are if the person loving them is honest about who the child really is. It can be painful to acknowledge that your most precious person in the world is flawed. Giving them the truth about themselves, is helping them to take the necessary next steps to achieving their true potential.