Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I watch from inside. Jane scoops a trowel full of snow and casually dumps it down Jack's back. He screams. She noodles around the yard as if totally deaf.
He stumbles over to our slider blubbering. I call Janie in.
"Jane, go potty and get ready for nap." All manner of tears and whine and foot dragging punctuate her distaste for this. She acquiesces only out of great experience with making consequences worse (and worse).
She sits on the edge of her bed, shoulders angled to display maximum dissatisfaction. "Think about how you feel right now." Stone girl is watching, but not talking. "Honey, how you feel right now, that's how you are supposed to feel if you do something bad." She looks my direction but is still snubbing her covers. "When you do something bad you are SUPPOSED to feel BAD." She skillfully avoids eye contact. "Janie, just so you know, this is so important that if you can't make yourself feel bad about doing something bad, I will help you out." Isn't this the beginning of realizing our own imperfection, the first domino in the story of redemption?
After more than a generation of self-esteem training for our children, studies show that people who consistently score the highest on self-esteem tests are psychopaths in prison. Sometimes I think that if you do something bad you should just go ahead and feel bad about it. We call it self-respect. And, suddenly my children can grab onto the invisible ideas of grace, mercy, love, the infinite value of each human being.
For more facts and research on parenting check out Parenting By the Book by John Rosemond.