Sunday, February 04, 2007

Raising Children

With the birth of twin grandchildren this weekend (photo above of Rody, taken within one within an hour of his birth), I’m reflecting on what I think it takes to raise children.

I ask myself, “What is the goal with this child?” My response is “To raise a child so he or she has self-esteem.”

With self-esteem, it seems to be that a child has a better chance to be happy, curious about the world, and able to care about others.

By being happy, curious, and empathetic, a child can grow up to be a “success,” in the widest use of that word that often is limited to measuring material accumulations.

So, in my humble opinion, how does a child get self-esteem? It certainly doesn’t come in the DNA, so it must come from the caregivers of that child.

As a non-expert and only from observations of how people raise children all these years,
I ‘ve come up with this formula: Self-esteem = Knowing that “I matter”. “Mattering” comes from believing that I am worthy of attention, that my thoughts and feelings have value. Knowing I matter doesn’t come from being showered with privileges, tons of stuff, and getting into the kindergarten that guarantees admission to an Ivy League college.

The only way I know that adult caregivers, whether they are parents, grandparents, nannies or day care providers, can give a child adequate attention is to pay attention to him or her. A fortiori, parents have the best shot at doing that if they aren’t too busy trying to get ahead. Day care givers are least able to, of course, since they have to care for so many children at one time.

However, since “it takes a village to raise a child,” all of us with children in our lives can pitch in.

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