When to hurt a child’s self-esteem (Pt. 1:~ponderings)

This is the part of parenting lessons that we’re never supposed to discuss.  We all know when it needs to happen, but no parent would dare condone the “hurting” of a child’s self-esteem.

I spent 7 years working with children between the ages of 1 and 5.  Returning to college after that, another 5 years would be taken up learning about the intricacies of working with adolescents and young adults.  After three years as an educator–lectures, seminars, classes, professional development– I think I know I’m a better parent because of it.

But I never heard an educated professional say “sometimes, you’ve got to leave a thought in a child’s head that hurts.  Sometimes, kids need their feelings hurt.”

Not once.  But as a parent, its completely true.

Memory lane: “you can’t have kids”

If only you knew the answer before he came back.  Then, he couldn’t see you change; he’d miss your chest falling, your eyes dipping, and the air leaving your lungs would be lost to his ears.  If only you knew what he knew, you would be free.   And as the door swings open, your heart can’t help but quicken–he’s not smiling.

“I’m sorry miss, you have a weak cervix; it cannot carry a  child to full term.  I’m afraid there is a high chance you’ll miscarry the next time you are pregnant.”  He didn’t make eye contact, and as he turned, I began to crumble.   “Not everyone was meant to be a mom.”

*                   *                    *

It was–and still is–the most hurtful thing anyone has ever said to me.  Sure, I can take being called a filthy Atheist.  Say I’m a horrible teacher and you hate me? No problem.  But that doctor, with his well intentions and soft voice, will always be the meanest person I’ve ever met.

He didn’t mean for things to come out that way; he was a doctor and I was a young lady with a very low chance of pregnancy.  He wanted me to move on, to enjoy life–but his delivery really sucked.

The next year I would be pregnant with my oldest daughter, the specialized care center would help diagnose my reproductive dilemma’s, and I became a mother on St. Patrick’s Day that following year.

It’s impossible to describe the regimen of eating, ultrasounds, and medicine that my family endured.  There were nights when I’d wake up, panicked that she was dead.  I’d scarf down ice-cold apple juice, lay down and beg her to move.

My experiences during pregnancy made me appreciate motherhood in a way that is irrational sometimes, but sincere.  I am so grateful that my girls are in my life.

I also know that I have a job–we all do as parents.  Our job is to create young people that are mentally and physically healthy; young people who can critically evaluate the world around them, and decide the best course of action for happiness.  Not just for themselves, but for all the beings that inhabit our planet.

This means raising children in a way that prepares them for the realities that they will face, making sure they can carry themselves in a respectful and honest way, teaching them to think outside the box and evaluate a situation with conscious thought–creating conscious, purposeful actions.

So, is it necessary to hurt self-esteem in order for a 21st-century freethinking child to be properly directed?  And what exactly is self-esteem?

What qualifies as hurt?

Care to weigh-in before we proceed?

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