The Most Important Rule in Parenting

When people tell me that I am doing a great job as a mother, I always give a sheepish look. It brings up a lot of tension in my belly, you know? Because, my mother. The way I was raised and parented wouldn’t be something that I would promote with my children and haven’t. In fact, my husband and I joke that I am a great mom because I do the exact opposite of what my mother did for me. There, I said it. I’ve been saying a lot lately, huh? Shed that light on the darkness, friends keep saying.

This week, I am linking up again with my girl Charity – who is really so provokingly raw in her personal journey. She shares it all y’all. And I’m not even Texan. I did live there for 5 years, I digress. This week, the prompt is books and resources for child raising. For me, there’s only one. You may have never heard of it before, and that’s precisely why I was so excited at this week’s prompt. The book is Your Child’s Self-Esteem: Step-by-Step Guidelines for Raising Responsible, Productive, Happy Children by Dorothy Corkille Briggs and I’ve had it for years, maybe even close to a decade. Or so I thought!

The Most Important Rule in #Parenting @fillpraycloset #resources #selfesteem #goodenoughmom

In preparing to write this post, I thought I would pull some of my favorite parts of the book. When I headed to my bookshelf to get it, I remembered that I’d loaned out my copy (again, this is the third time) and I never got it back. As I was complaining about why it wasn’t available for download, grumbling to myself, stubbing my toe and sliding books back and forth along the shelf (because it could totally just appear out of thin air, right?), my husband says, “you’ve loaned that out three times already, what’s that say about you?” Indeed. It says I need to stop giving stuff away, I don’t have unlimited Amazon money. Obviously. More than that, a child’s self esteem, to me, is the most important aspect of a person to nurture.

Self esteem is so tender, so fragile and at the mercy of the parents in their charge. Unawares, we come into this world wholly dependent on our parents to feed us. Not just rice and beans, but to feed us spiritually, mentally and psychologically too. For so many, only the former is taken into account; the bare necessities, and for that, these children grow into hungry, hole-ridden adults who can’t have a healthy relationship with anyone, least of all the parents that “raised” them. (Count me as one!)

The most important job as a parent @fillpraycloset #parenting #resources #books


Corkille Briggs explains:

What is self esteem? It is how a person feels about himself. It is his over-all judgement of himself – how much he likes his particular person.

High self-esteem is not a noisy conceit. It is a quiet sense of self-respect, A feeling of self-worth. When you have it deep inside, you’re glad you’re you. Conceit is but whitewash to cover low self-esteem. With high self-esteem, you don’t waste time and energy impressing others; you already know you have value.

Your child’s judgement of himself influences the kinds of friends he chooses, how he gets along with others, the kind of person he marries, and how productive he will be. It affects his creativity, integrity, stability, and even whether he will be a leader or a follower. His feelings of self-worth form a core of his personality and determine the use he makes of his aptitudes and abilities. His attitude towards himself has a direct bearing on how he lives all parts of his life. In fact, self-esteem is the mainspring that slates every child for success or failure as a human being.

My parents who had no idea the damage they were planting and the years of relationships as an adult that I would be unprepared to effectively navigate through. At the very least, I knew that my self esteem was the root of my problems. Learning that, and knowing I was running out of time to get a good roadmap (because Alex was born) I was adamant that the self esteem of my children would come before anything else: organic baby food, Mommy and me exercise classes, or even my own personal needs. I was, and still am, that crazy about it.

Corkille Briggs writes:

Have you ever thought of yourself as a mirror? You are one – a psychological mirror your child uses to build his identity. And his whole life is affected by the conclusions he draws.

Every infant is born without a sense of self. Each one must learn to be human in the sense that you and I use this word. Once in a while a child has been found who has managed to survive in complete isolation from other people. With no language, no conscience, no need for others, no sense of identity, the “wolf-child” is only human in appearance. Such cases teach that the sense of selfhood or personhood is not instinctual. It is social achievement, learned from living with others.

Am I the best parent that ever lived? My kids will say yes, but we all know that mistakes have been made and will be made. However, at the very least, I have a roadmap for them. They know they have value, they know that they are loved beyond measure and that their worlds no matter how big they become, will always have a special place in my little heart.

Have I convinced you to get this book? I think even if you don’t have children, are planning to, or just need a roadmap for yourself to nurture the child within, it’s worth it’s weight in gold. Just don’t all rush over and leave a copy for me to purchase. Again.

Join the rest of the Good Enough Moms this week, and every Tuesday, at The Wounded Dove



19 thoughts on “The Most Important Rule in Parenting

  1. This is so good, Cristina! I love “Self esteem is so tender, so fragile and at the mercy of the parents in their charge”. I know I am a victim of poor parenting, too, causing me years of poor self worth. Thanks for reminding me how delicate and tender my babies in my care are.


  2. I have parents who loved me despite their own flaws and mine. I am grateful, because I know others do not have that—it’s a real blessing. Nothing could be more important.

    My own issue as a parent is my ever-constant battle against perfectionism and emotional distance. Indulging these feeds into the problem you state above, and I really don’t want that for my kids.


    1. You? Emotional distance, I never would have guessed. Really. But parenting is so connected and rooted in our own emotional make -up so who knows the why’s or where’s of any of it, no? You still rock my socks off. 🙂


      1. Aww, I tend to clam up and withdraw. #deeppsychologicalissues #ibringhashtagstoyourblogdonthateme

        You know My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Well, my husband’s family would be the Greeks and mine would be the family with the Bundt cake. 🙂


  3. Oh gosh how I love the idea behind this book AND your parenting!!! AMEN to it, to creating in our children a strong foundation of self worth and purpose in who they are and where they stand in this world!! I’m totally going to get this book. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!


    1. Oh you’re welcome Chris. This book is really a treasure to me, and even for adult relationships. Just don’t love it so much you give it away – that little rule doesn’t apply to this book 😉


  4. Have you ever read the book LIt by Mary Karr? One of my favs in the entire world and one reasons I like it so much is because Karr was sold a bad bill of goods and when it came time to have her own child, she worried ad nauseum about her failures, which eventually became self-fulfilled.

    Love that book. 🙂

    You are a good mother.


  5. Oh, what a great idea for a linkup! My favorite parenting book is Siblings Without Rivalry, which gave me such wonderful insight when we added our second child to our family. It really helped me with empathy and to realize why I felt I was parenting two new children rather than just one.


  6. Great post – self-esteem is so critical for navigating through your life. I word it differently for my kids. I tell them they have to be their own best friend.


  7. That definitely looks like a book I need to check out. Sometimes, I’m not sure how to respond to my 3yo daughter. I try to give affirmation, but dealing with other people’s feelings isn’t my strong suit.

    I’ll check out the book. It looks like my local library has a few copies.



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