Has OUR self-worth got tied into who our CHILDREN are as humans?

Jul 04, 2022
Has OUR self-worth got tied into who our CHILDREN are as humans?

I was listening to something in which the speaker was talking about the concept of having certain material things just for the purpose of having people appraise you well.

For example, if there’s a party at your new work place and you arrive in a Honda Civic- that’s going to barely make anyone take note of you. However, if you arrive in a Tesla... people are going to look twice.

Anyone who saw you stepping out of your Tesla will view you a certain way. You’ll likely feel their admiration radiate all the way across the room even.

And this isn’t a concept that’s new, yes? As far back as human history goes, people have wanted to be known for having the best [insert suitable to the times thing] like horses, jewels, armor etc.

All of this made me realize that somewhere along the road, our children became our Tesla.

Our children became The Thing that people appraise our worth by. And so we started to treat children more like commodities than people with their own thoughts, feelings, likes, interests, dislikes, goals and freedom.

We decided that we will “churn out” a certain kind of child. She’s our The Thing that the world will judge us by so she must be a certain way so we can look good.

Of course, that’s not what we’re thinking. What parent is going to knowingly hurt their child so THEY can look good? Not any parent that I know.

How this happens is more complex, which is why we miss it.

We are 100% not meaning to do any of this. We really do believe that whatever we’re doing is for the betterment of our child. The problem arises when we reflect on HOW we decided what’s best for our child.

How did we decide that our 3yo needs to know all her ABC’s, counting, alif bai, nursery rhymes, Surahs, coloring inside the lines and ideally be in a soccer camp or tae-kwon-do class?

How did we decide that the school that requires all these things from preschoolers is a good school? Or a school that “pushes” kids more is better?

How did we decide that our middle schooler should be excelling at school, sports, social life and extra-circulars?

How did we decide that our kids, regardless of age, should always be in control of ALL their emotions? That any display of anger, sadness, shyness, jealousy, envy, resistance etc. has only ONE interpretation: misbehavior. And misbehavior = correction/punishment.

Perhaps when I put it all like this, it seems a bit ridiculous (which it is) but how come it all seems so acceptable and normalized all around us? How come no one is questioning any of it?

That’s because kids have always been viewed as “something to be seen and not heard”. This idea comes from social conditioning that is centuries old. And now that we consider ourselves modern parents who “see” their kids and give them importance, it seems like a natural progression to do for them what is probably for their best.

We took kids from the background and put them in the forefront of our lives and existence, with no actual research or evidence-based plan on HOW to go about it.

Since we had no actual plan on how to do this, we had only one option: to use the centuries’ old concepts of how kids SHOULD be and apply our modern-age “techniques” to churn out the “best kids”.

And it’s very believable, isn’t it? That what we’re doing is best for our kids... because after all, shouldn’t kids BE “well-behaved” and shouldn’t they do really well in school? Shouldn’t they be well-rounded individuals who are good at math, science, art, extracurriculars and everything else that everyone else’s kids are (supposedly) good at? Shouldn’t they always follow directions and not be contrary? Isn’t THAT what “good kids” look like and don’t we OWE it to our kids to MAKE them that way?

And if we DON’T make them that way then what kind of parents ARE we?!

Failures and losers, surely.

See how that happened?

How OUR self-worth got tied into who our CHILDREN are as humans? 😪

And all based on what?!

This isn’t to say that we stopped loving our kids.

But our kids definitely stopped feeling loved.

Or at least they stopped feeling valued and understood and accepted.

We treat them like commodities instead of full measure, completely formed humans.

And I think that’s a tragedy.

It is the tragedy of our times, in my humble opinion.

We are holding our kids to impossible standards that we ourselves can’t even reach. That no human CAN reach.

This is resulting in a unique phenomenon of children being routinely diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

How on earth did childhood become compatible with anxiety? 😪

To be fair, the reasons for skyrocketing anxiety in kids isn’t just parental perfectionism; social media and electronics add to the dilemma. But that’s all the more reason why we raise kids who’re connected to us with love and support so they have less need for outside approval and “escapes” that electronics offer.

So what CAN we do? First of all, we can become MINDFUL parents. This means..


Ask yourself why you’re wanting your child to do xyz. What does research say about this? What does scientific data say about this? And if you’re Muslim, what does our beautiful religion say about kids?

Realize that joining the masses isn’t our goal in life.

Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right or ok.

And no, our kids won’t be “left behind”.

You can only be left behind in a race if you’re racing to the same destination as everyone else.

It’s impossible to be left behind on a path that is uniquely your own, with no one else even on it because it’s YOURS because your destination is a result of your own unique talents, thoughts and ideas.

I tell my kids all the time, we don’t WANT to be like anyone else. Allah made us unique. Let’s revel in that uniqueness. Let’s discover who WE are, what OUR gifts are, what OUR path is.

And how to find the answers to these questions is very simple: when we stop partaking in the Tesla race, we start seeing our kids for who they really are, not who we want them to become. And then we follow their lead. They were created to walk a certain path, they already know the directions to their destination, we just trail behind them, ready to provide support, to help, to hold their hand, to love and accept, to explore the mistakes and celebrate the wins.

We lead, not from the front, but from the back.

And I promise you, it’s a much more JOYFUL ride this way 💗

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