Inspiring Confidence

Dear Reader,

A few things I have read recently are coming together in my head. One is that controversial Chinese parenting article which has generated so much buzz (see my earlier post on it here). While I do not agree with everything the writer says and does, she does make a  good point when she speaks about how western parenting, in an effort to build children’s self-esteem, actually does the opposite.

The second is the book we are reading for our Sabbath school class about helping the poor. This week’s chapter talks about how in an effort to help we often actually make it harder for the poor to help themselves. The example given is of a church which distributed Christmas presents to poor children, but in the end the fathers became more defeated because they thought, “I cannot even provide for my own children; some stranger has to do it.” And they became even less likely to go out and seek out ways to better their situation.

The third was this post by Sheila at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. She talks about how we can support of husbands not by babying them or saying “I will love you even if you fail” but by simply believing that they can do whatever it is they are attempting to do.

In all three cases, the conclusion is the same: sometimes we help best by simply believing in someone’s ability and assuming that they can succeed. Now self-esteem is not my end goal in parenting. But I do want my children to have some degree of confidence in themselves. It is a good reminder that they are most likely to get this when I do less and not more for them.

My own parents did not follow the Chinese model at all (we are not Asian though my siblings always told me I was Chinese because “every fourth child is Chinese” and I was the fourth of four). They were not very strict parents but they did have high academic standards. They expected A’s and were not happy with less. But in the end, I do think they instilled me with a mindset that I can do the things I try. My husband’s family is much more handy than mine. His dad is great at fixing things while mine was not very handy. But in the end, I think I am more likely to think that I can do some odd household job myself whereas my husband  seems to lack confidence in this area (we had to get a new lock on our front door recently and I had a lot more confidence than he did that we would be able to install it ourselves; unfortunately, in this case he was right and we were in hopelessly over our heads). Which I suppose brings me back to Sheila’s point that I should try to express confidence in him as well as in my children.


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