“...Appreciation adds a sense of significance, the idea that, ‘Hey I’m important!  Mom and Dad like to have me around — they’re proud of me!’” (How to Be a Hero to Your Kids by Josh McDowell)

Children feel self-worth and a sense of security at first because of the feelings generated by the adults in their life. One of the great tragedies of children raising children is that they seldom develop their child’s sense of self-worth and security, mainly because they haven’t developed their own.

When parents haven’t yet firmly decided about their own self-worth and solved some of their own problems, they aren’t able to give a child a sense of self-worth or security. It takes a great deal of unselfishness to put another person’s needs before our own needs.

Most of us have limited amounts of unselfishness when we are teens. Josh McDowell also wrote some thoughts that are well worth considering.

“It is important to appreciate a child’s performance, but only after the child knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that performance has nothing to do with self-worth,” he said. “To challenge a child is one thing, but expecting too much starts the child on a vicious cycle, living on a performance basis. Some psychologists believe when people are put on a performance basis, one out of three becomes a perfectionist.”

You might think, “What’s wrong with a perfectionist?” For one thing, have you ever met a happy perfectionist? A perfectionist may be literate, but finds no joy in reading because he or she thinks he or she could write better or know more.

Granted the perfectionist might truly be able to do so, but one of the joys of literacy is reading what someone has to say, then thinking about it and going on from there, not tearing it apart as to how it is written. Literacy includes ideas written down so that others might respond to the ideas.

There is certainly a place for critical analysis (taking part and discussing a certain piece of work), but the fun is in the reading. Literacy means I can enjoy reading a comic book, a newspaper article, a magazine, a book etc. and gain joy and information.

Dick Day said, “When parents can communicate to their children that what counts is doing their best, they help free them from the win-lose mentality. They help their children catch the subtle but very real difference between competing with instead of competing against. That’s why it is so important to appreciate your children’s effort more than their win/lose record.”

One thing modern society has taken from our children are heroes that fight for the good and the best in themselves and others, but not always by the sword or gun. A child needs heroes and heroines involved in their lives. It isn’t the rock stars, sport stars, or even peers that enable children to feel good about themselves and have a desire to learn.

It is the adults in their lives that contribute heavily to their feelings of self-worth and to building a desire to be literate and learned. Parents don’t have to be perfect, but they need to keep trying to build their children’s self-esteem through literacy and activity. Be partners with teachers, not antagonists or worse yet, apathetic.

The most proud points of my life has been when one of my children knows more than I do because they have read and acted on what they read.

The upcoming elections are a treasured time to show how you read and learn about platforms, candidates, policies, etc. — both those locally and nationally. Show children in your life that it isn’t whether someone says the right thing, but that you compare if they do the right thing. No one is too young to recognize people who run for an office need courage and some of them are excellent.

Voting is pondering who will be the most excellent for an office. Voting is literacy in action in determining what you think is the best policy. Granted you may be wrong; literacy doesn’t ensure you are right; it does ensure that you have given serious thought to the issue.

Until next week — Christine Pauley