Building Self-Esteem – The Value of Being Different

At the dinner table my boys, my husband and I had quite the conversation going.  Ever since we brought sliced peaches to lunch at school the other week for dessert and the entire table of kids oohed and ahhhhed over them, the boys have been on a kick of asking why people drink kool-aid and eat junk food.  It boggles their mind why people would choose foods that don’t help their body to get stronger.

Ever since my boys were little, I have been conscious about what they are eating.  I have added flax, chia seeds, fish oil, dulse (a type of seaweed) and probiotics to everything I can think of.  We are perhaps  a little crazy (and sometimes not perfect) with our food, but we are definately thankful we are mindful.

This mindfulness about what we place in our bodies (food) and what we think has created a sense of pride in my kids. Both of my boys are super proud that they make healthy choices with food. They are proud that they walk to school.  They are proud of who they are.  They value their own choices, their differences. They don’t constantly try to fit in.  They know we make choices in our family that are based upon what is right for us, not based upon others opinions.  My boys are ok knowing that their favorite chickie socks might not be liked by others.  They will say to me, “Mom, I know someone might laugh at this, but I like it.”  I always respond with a question, “What matters most?”  To which they respond, “That my heart is happy.”

In this world I see parents, grandparents, friends, co-workers desperately trying to help their kids and grandkids fit in.  They buy them the electronics, the socks, the snacks etc. to make sure their kids are not left out.  They enrol them in things to make sure they fit in with their peers or because everyone is doing it.  But the truth of it is, kids are ok with being different.  They only begin to question themselves after watching the adults react.  Kids observe how so many adults try so hard to fit in.  Kids watch TV and absorb the sneaky marketing ads that try to psych us all out by thinking we are missing something in life if we don’t buy X, Y and Z.

One of the reasons why I created the i love me!  book, was to help kids celebrate who they are at their core.  To help kids believe in who they are.  To remind kids to look inside themselves for strength and not depend upon outside influences.

At the dinner table today we told the boys that someone mentioned that they feel bad for them that they don’t drink pop.  Their first response, “Why?”   Both boys stopped what they were eating and looked up at me.. One of my boys quickly went into, “Why do the kids next to me in school drink kool-aid and eat cookies and candy at lunch?”  The irony is that my boys feel bad for kids that eat junk food.

Life is a matter of perspective.  What we value, what we think is important is through our own lens.  When we teach our children to believe in themselves, they value their decisions.  When we teach children that their value comes from fitting in, we teach them life consists of things outside of who they are.

So how do we teach kids perspective?  Ask questions, start a discussion.  Be open.  

So many parents make assumptions for their kids.  They assume they know what is right.  Just the other day someone said that at some point we need to let out kids make their own decisions.  This is exactly what we are doing.  Our kids get excited when the heirloom seed cataloge arrives.  Their faces light up when we bring peaches to school.

They are fine with being different.

Just to be sure, we asked them what they find fun in life.  (Because even I sometimes listen to the itty bit of doubt in my head that other people try to plant in there by their comments).  They answered climbing trees, playing outside, eating yummy foods, being healthy, planting a garden…Sure enough, they are just fine being themselves.  If they want to be a pro soccer player someday, we will sit on the sidelines and cheer them on, but for now they are marveling at the purple carrots in the seed cataloge and exclaiming how amazing it is that God’s colors are so varied.

Once when we were sitting in a Target parking lot finishing our Frosty (see I told you I am not perfect with food!), one of my sons said to me, “Mom.  I am so glad that the world is different, because if everybody drove the same car and all the trees looked the same, it would not be fun.”

So go out on a limb, be different.  You might find that you are more afraid of it than your kids are.  🙂

~Summer Joy





About The Author

Summer Brackhan

Mom, sociologist, teacher, author, musician, world traveler, parenting and health coach who believes healthy living incorporates body, mind and soul and that life is not about living in little boxes, but experiencing everything at its fullest.

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