How strong does a boy need to be to lift his self esteem?

I was at speedway a while ago with my sister and brother-in-law and our kids and we sat on the edge of the terraced limestone and grass seating area. As we watched the racing a young child sitting behind us about six years of age who was sitting with his father, accidentally kicked my brother-in-law Shane, with his foot. Shane turned around just to see what it was and realizing it was just a kid and no harm was done he smiled and turned back to the racing. The child’s father however proceeded to make something out of it and told his son off in a very angry voice. He told the boy to watch what he was doing, yanked the child’s chair back aggressively and told him to apologize to Shane.

Shane turned back and said it was ok and no harm was done and after a few more harsh words the father finally let it go.

Now a rather small incident in life I know but I got to thinking … first of all how I was like that once and a lot worse … but also about the messages that little boy got. It is not ok to make mistakes. In my dad’s eyes strangers are more important than me. I am worth less than others. (And we wonder why we all have such strong feelings of worthlessness in our lives) Strangers are more forgiving than my father. Daddy doesn’t really love me and so on.

How did he feel about what just happened? Embarrassed, ashamed, disappointed, hurt, low, sad, isolated, lonely, unimportant, unloved and worthless to name but a few I’m sure.

Now I know from when I have been like that the dad probably had no conscious intention of making his son feel all or any of those things. He was just angry and maybe embarrassed himself. Then I looked more closely at the dad (All in a matter of seconds mind) He was very overweight, looked stressed and not happy. Now I may have just caught a glimpse of them on a bad day and I am by no means saying he is a bad dad however I got to thinking about how I was when raising my son.

I was busy working in job I didn’t feel fulfilled at, had no hobbies other than drinking to get drunk, had no real sense of purpose and had very little time to spend with myself let alone with my family. I was an angry dad and thought the way to get respect was to demand it.

My opinion of myself (Or more like lack of one) reflected how I was with my kids. Isn’t it funny how we sometimes take on the belief that how our kids behave in public reflects on how we are as parents … and we all want to be good parents right?

Because I didn’t feel very good about myself it was so important to me that I got the approval of others … even to the detriment of my own relationship with my children. I see how much of a wedge this can drive between our kids and us.

I am blessed in my life that I was able to turn all that around and change my life completely. In working on myself and getting myself right I have been able to become a much better parent. Not only have I been able to reconnect with my older kids in a way far more profound and loving than I ever had, I have been given the amazing opportunity to parent my little five year old completely differently and in a way that I make conscious choices for her, not based on others opinions about anything, but based on what is best for her life and our relationship.

I am even more blessed to be in a position now where I help everyday people make massive changes in their relationships and their lives in general and it doesn’t feel like work at all.

Dean Powell