I am worth it
Instead, we reserve our praise and admiration for a select few, those who have been blessed from birth, with the proverbial ‘silver spoon’. It is a vicious system, and we as parents, must counter-balance its debilitating impact; if only parents could understand what their children go through as a result of the false perception of values, on which self-esteem is so often based in our culture. In the process, parents must appreciate how effectively and unknowingly we teach our small children that worthiness and social approval are beyond their reach.
By glorifying idealized models to which few can conform, we have created a vast army of ‘have nots’ – born losers who are discouraged with life, before it has really begun. They turn this way and that, searching vainly for a solution to their inner emptiness and pain. For millions who never find it, the road to personal worth becomes a long, unpaved detour, leading to no-where.
The matter of personal worth is not only the concern of those who lack it, but also the responsibility of those who believe in it. In a real sense, the health of an entire society depends on the ease with which its individual members can gain personal acceptance. Thus, whenever the keys of self esteem are seemingly out of reach for a large percentage of the people, as was evident in the western society at the turn of the 21st Century, then widespread ‘mental illnesses’ such as neuroses, hatred, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence and social disorder do certainly occur.
Personal worth is not something human beings are free to take or leave. It must be ingrained in our personalities, or each one of us will have to endure the repercussions of its absence. With the proper use of parental influence and direction, we can provide our children with the inner strength necessary to overcome the obstacles or impediments they face. We can open the road to self esteem and personal worth for our children. Perhaps we won’t be able to reconstruct the world, but we can certainly help our children to cope with it more successfully.
Human worth in our society is carefully reserved for those who meet certain rigid specifications. The beautiful people are born with it, those who are highly intelligent are likely to find approval easily. Superstar athletes are usually admired and respected. But no one is considered valuable just because he or she is! Social acceptance is awarded rather carefully, making certain to exclude those who ‘become’ unqualified due to various factors.
Believe it or not, a five year old is capable of ‘feeling’ his lack of worth in our social system. Most of our little ones observe very early that some people are valuable and some are not. They also know when they are one of the losers! In many ways, we as parents inadvertently teach the so-called criteria to them; and place a price-tag on their human worth. This results in feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, which if left unattended, would mentally scar our children for life.
Let us endeavour to teach our children to unleash their best selves, and, most of all, take time to be appreciative of their many aspects.
Dr Shayama Chona, is the former Principal of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi; Founder President of Tamana (NGO for physically & mentally handicapped children); Founder of Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (a school for the under-privileged); she has been a member of 96 Advisory Boards and Committees; she has been nominated to Managing Committees of 46 schools and other educational institutions; she has been named in the Limca Book of Records 2007. She has been awarded the State Award for Services in Education 1993, National Award for Services as a Teacher of Outstanding Merit 1994, National Award for Outstanding Performance for Welfare of People with Disabilities 1997, Padma Shri 1999, Padma Bhushan 2008, and 49 other awards. She lives at C10/8, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com