I just hung up the phone from talking to my 92-year-old father, Bill Miller. He is in speech therapy and struggling to express himself. His speech is slow and he tires quickly. Yet, the entire conversation he continued to build up my self-esteem with words of affirmation, grace and love. This is what he does in nearly every conversation I have with him. He intentionally makes me feel like the greatest son in the world.
In the Bible, the book of 2 Samuel illustrates the tragic story of King David and his son Absalom. David failed as a parent to his son, but we don’t have to. Thinking about my dad today, here are three ways you can nurture your child’s self-esteem.
1. Unconditional Love: Embrace your child with unconditional love, emphasizing that your affection is not based on achievements but on the unique person they are. Let them feel secure in the knowledge that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.
2. Words of Affirmation: Speak life into your child by offering genuine and positive affirmations. Regularly acknowledge their efforts, strengths, and qualities. Your words become a powerful force that shapes their self-perception and fosters a resilient spirit. So when you do have to correct them, they know it is not them you are attacking, but simply addressing their behavior. I think of the words at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Your child needs to hear you are pleased with them.
3. Quality Time and Active Listening: Invest quality time in meaningful interactions with your child. Actively listen to their thoughts and feelings, creating a safe space for expression. This demonstrates that their voice matters, reinforcing a sense of significance and boosting their confidence.
Through unconditional love, affirming words, and attentive listening, you can cultivate a foundation of self-esteem, guiding your child toward a future filled with confidence, just as my dad has done over the years. Our story doesn’t have to pan out like the tragic tale of David and Absalom. In what ways have your parents nurtured your self-esteem? Share in the comments below.