Lacking Confidence, We See No Others

Strange title, I agree.  However, I’m being to believe that the very foundation of a strong family, a strong community or a strong school is confidence in ourselves.

As a almost-to-be father, I picked up a parenting book in a Borders (in shopping center in Maryland), and read a few pages.  In very blunt terms, the book said that all children crave one thing in their parents.  It wasn’t leadership, or knowledge, or demonstrations of success– it was simply unflappable-ness (if that is a word).  The example they gave was the horrific TV show The Brady Bunch.  Despite my mental images of Jan cat fighing with Marsha, the book noted that the Brady parents were pretty much unflappable.  They didn’t rage.  They didn’t fly off the handle when Jan broke her glasses.  They took things in stride, kept their heads, and modeled how calm, non-alcoholic, mentally-balanced parents should behave.

For a parent to pull this off, I realize, takes some self-confidence.  Dr. Ned Hallowell was visiting and speaking at our school recently, and he had a very simple five steps to enabling kids to have great childhoods, which boiled down to basically one concept– the importance of “connections” at home and at school as being the key indicators of both happiness and future success in life.  One of my favorite recommendations– spend 20 minutes a week with each of your children individually, doing whatever they want and enjoy with you.  That investment is like money in the bank that will pay powerful dividends for decades.

As Dr. Hallowell noted, connections are free, there is no limit, and all of us crave and desire them.  Giving is the way to receive, but there is a catch.  There’s always a catch…  The challenge is that to connect with others, we have to have some confidence in ourselves.  If we have too much self-doubt, it’s hard to really connect or be friends with others.  Doubt leads to negative fears about oneself, and reflective fears of others– typically leading to blaming others or judging them to weak or bad or lazy or unneeded– basically all the things we worry about ourselves.  This was also reflected in Dr. Hallowell’s talk about previous generations of fathers really wanting and driving their sons to be “better than themselves.”  This led to misguided and sometimes harsh words and actions and attitudes, because it was all really a statement about how the fathers felt about themselves.

I believe Dr. Hallowell was correct on many levels.  If we think less of others, it’s time to be honest about how we feel about ourselves, and GET OVER IT.  We’re capable of doing great things, if we just acknowledge that, all the way around.

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