Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Through a window...

I heard a great quote today by an author, Jill Rigby. I haven't read Rigby's book, "Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World," so I can't comment on that. In an interview she gave, however, she said, "Teach your children to look at life through a window instead of at a mirror."

Her point was that our modern culture is overly concerned with creating self esteem in children. We parents sometimes raise the goal of helping our children to be happy above helping them to be humble and holy -- which leads to greater happiness in the long run.

When we turn our children's focus toward themselves, they view life as if they are looking in a mirror. When you look in a mirror, you can't see others. You can't see their needs. You also can't see them looking at you and loving you. You see yourself only. Thus, placing too much weight on self esteem and self focus ends up making a child feel lonely and alienated from others. A self-absorbed child cannot make the deep connections to God and others that lead to a fulfilling life.

If you teach a child to look through a window, however, they have a larger view. They can see God. They can see the love that others have for them. They can see the needs of others and reach out to meet those needs. They form deeper connections to God and to other people.

I thought that was a profound concept. It's one we all know, but I think her analogy of the window and the mirror drives the concept home.

In the same vein, Homeliving Helper has an article today called the Blessing of Work.
It's about modeling a happy attitude in our work and teaching our children to have a happy attitude when they work. This goes a long way toward helping a child to overcome crippling selfishness, I think.



a woman found said...

I love it! "Teach your children to look through a window not a mirror." That is one of my prayers constantly, "Lord, how can I teach my sons today to reach out to others"

Also, I have an award for you on my blog (Meditations and Confessions of A Homemaker).


Elizabeth said...

Hi Woman Found,

I thought that was a great quote, too. Thanks for your kind words and for the award.

Lauren said...

Oh, how true!

Now that we are living without cable or satellite, I am seeing exactly how many of the kids' shows we used to watch were dedicated to raising childrens' self-esteem.

I need to be careful to check my own life as well for that sense of entitlement.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Lauren,

Yes, our culture is so involved right now with exalting self-esteem. It's sad, because it seems that only ends up creating unhappiness and anxiety, rather than the peace people think it will bring.

I know I daily have to repent of being unhealthily self-focused.