Sunday, August 23, 2009

Self-Esteem Smells Like Napalm

It's the clip during reality shows that occurs so frequently it is as standard an edit as opening credits.

Some poor deluded fool stares straight into the camera and insists that all the criticism the other contestants and the judges are pouring on him or her is nothing less than jealousy.

These poor schmucks are so bloated with self-esteem that they can not step back and objectively view their own behavior - even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

"Know Thyself" is one of the earliest tenets of Western Civilization and yet rather than examine our own shortcomings and accurately assess them, rather than helping our children hone their talents by acknowledging what they can and can not do, we worship the cult of self-esteem.

And how often does it blow up in our faces? How often do those poor misjudging contestants end up voted off the show because they have no tools to redirect their talents, their actions, even their words. Blinded by years of reinforcement, their metasized self-esteem leads them to self-implosion.

The long-term results of a short-term idea. The idea of "let's not hurt Johnny's feelings with reality - he face it later", is lazy parenting. It comes from the same laziness as "He'll learn about religion later, I don't want to force my views on him." Congratulations, you've raised an atheist with no moral compass.

Suck it up and give yourself and your kids a cold dose of reality every now and again. Sure, it's cold but only for a moment. Unchecked self-esteem always leads to burning and lifelong scars.

Don't believe me? Here are two studies from the authors of NurtureShock. This one is about how to praise properly and this one is from their blog on how praise damages self-esteem. Both are excellent reads and an important tool for us in instilling character into our children.


  1. the world needs more 'mean' parents ;)

    good stuff!

    Bad Parents

  2. I think your 'cult of self-esteem' rant stands apart from all the rest thanks of the casual, classy trashing of anybody raised in a non-religious family. All sociopaths, I'm sure.

  3. You had me at "Clean My Kitchen", but this just iced the cake. You're so right. Never give a kid self esteem. Let 'em earn it. They'll love you for it. Great post!

  4. My sister is raising my nieces in with an atheists worldview. And she has made her opinion known via a facebook exchange.

    A careful reading of my post reveals I never trashed anyone or called them a sociopath for being raised in a non-religious family. You projected that yourself.

    The "no moral compass" is important. Being raised in a non-religious family does NOT make anyone a sociopath, let alone an atheist for that matter. But being raised without clearly understanding morals and morality can lead to extraordinarily bad behavior.

    Faith, religion, spirituality are often used interchangedly but they shouldn't be. I am teaching my children our faith because a life without God or a soul is so terribly deary to me. But I am using our religion to develop, deepen, and maintain an ongoing dialogue with my children about the importance of morals, morality, good character, and virtue.

    I also teach them that no one is perfect which is why we must be forgiving of others. So I forgive you for your mistaken assumptions about me and my views and hope this clears things up.

  5. False praise is pandemic among American parents and teachers. See how long you can go without uttering the words "Good job!" to your little ones, as in "Good job breathing, Dakota!"

    Kids need unconditional love which isn't based on performance, good, bad, or indifferent.

    Love your blog.