Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

I once had a German Sociology professor in college who told us that, where he came from, American college students were often viewed as “happy idiots” because of a persistent stereotype in which US kids are continually lavished with praise for doing….not much.

That was quite a number of years back, so in defense of European college professors today, the perception has probably shifted since then.

But that incident did cross my mind this week when I came across some research that made me question my parenting. Researchers, attempting to understand how a person develops into a narcissist, surveyed parents and their children four times over a period of one-and-a-half years to see if they could identify which factors would eventually result in the kids having an over-inflated view of themselves.

The results showed that parents who “overvalued” their children early on, were more likely to have children who would score high on narcissism tests later on. “Overvalued children were described by their parents in surveys as ‘more special than other children’ and as kids who ‘deserve something extra in life,”’ for example. They were also likely to agree with statements like, “My child is a great example for other children to follow.”

I love my kids a whole lot. When they are not fighting with each other, I often find myself in awe of these fascinating people who are a miraculous product of my husband and myself. When our first child was born, my heart exploded with love and I danced on happy rainbows for quite some time before I could admit any—and I mean any—shortcoming in that lovely child.

When I was pregnant with our second child and telling our (older) midwife that I was a little concerned about how our daughter would handle having a new baby in the house, she quickly responded, “The sooner she learns that the world doesn’t revolve solely around her, the better. And it’s better to learn that at 2 than at 30.” Uh, ok.

As each of our subsequent children were born, I like to think I’ve become more clear-eyed and grounded in my parenting. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still view each of my kids through heavily-tinted rose-colored glasses. Love will do that to you, I guess.

But am I taking that love too far and making them think that they should always be #1?

My husband and I do try to encourage our kids a lot. We want them to know not just that they are loved, but to also feel encouraged, and confident. But – gulp – I do see attitudes of entitlement surface in them at times. And that’s frustrating, because I want to raise kids who love others and are willing to serve, not kids who expect to be served continually.

With all the talk about “nurturing self-esteem” in recent years, our intentions are good. Nobody wants to raise a kid who feels they are worthless. We want our kids to know 100% that they are deeply loved. But maybe we’ve taken it a little too far with telling our kids how great they are. Other research now tells us that it is parental warmth, not lavish praise, that helps build healthy self-esteem in kids. Being present, showing affection, appreciation and an interest in their activities and their day, counts. On the other hand, ironically, over-praising can actually have the opposite effect and lead to lower self-esteem.

Apparently, kids believe what their parents tell them, and kids who are told in one way or another that they are more special than others and “deserve” so many things actually do come to believe those things. And that is not necessarily a good thing for our kids, or for a society that has to put up with them.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Zrinka Peters

Zrinka lives on 35 acres in MN with her husband, six kids and an ever-changing number of furry and feathered creatures. She loves book clubs, flowerbeds, and successful gluten-free baking. One of her greatest hopes is to lead her children to love deeply. She sometimes catches a few minutes to write in between snacks, laundry, and kid catastrophes. She hopes to make her little corner of the world a better place one word at a time.

Goodbye to the Baby Hangers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Shirt hanging from small hanger, color photo

You bought them when you first found out you were pregnant. It may have been one of the first items, actually, to hold all of the precious new clothes. The smallest ones in your household. Do you remember that first newborn onesie you bought? It was one of your favorites. You couldn’t fathom you would soon hold something so small that would fit into that onesie. You washed all of the new clothing in preparation and hung them up in your baby’s closet. You know the item. A miniature version of the ones in your closet. Baby hangers. “Do we...

Keep Reading

Take the Trip, You Won’t Regret It

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood

Two years ago, in the middle of a snowy, windy, Colorado March, my husband and I made the spontaneous decision to road trip to Arizona with our three very young kids.  Even though I was excited, the nerves were so very real. Over the next couple of weeks, I literally lost sleep worrying about the logistics of our trip. My late-night mindless scrolling was replaced by searches like “traveling with toddlers” and “keeping kids entertained on road trips”. We already had our hands full chasing kids at home in a familiar setting. Were we crazy to think we could just...

Keep Reading

They’ll Remember the Love Most of All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman with kids from above, pregnant mother with kids hands on belly

You lie in bed at the end of a long day, the events of the day flashing back through your mind. You do this a lot—recap your day as a mama. How did you do? Did you maintain your patience? Did you play enough? Did you limit screen time? Did you yell less today than you did yesterday? You saw a really neat toddler activity in the group you’re a part of on Facebook . . . you should have done that with the kids. They would have loved it. There wasn’t enough time though, and you didn’t have all...

Keep Reading

He’s Slowly Walking Away with Footprints As Big As Mine

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Teen boy walking along beach shore

The true measure of a mother’s love is her willingness to wake up before the sun on vacation. On a recent trip to the shore, my youngest son begged to walk the beach at dawn to look for shells. So, I set my alarm, tumbled out of a warm, king-sized bed with extra squishy pillows, glared at my dead-to-the-world husband, and gently woke my 11-year-old. Without so much as a drop of coffee, we headed out into the morning, the sun still below the ocean horizon. With each step, I shed my zombie-like state and took in the quiet, salt-kissed...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Raising You Right Is Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
little boy walking in sunlit field

You were the baby who slept nights. You were the infant who quietly stacked blocks one on top of the other. You were the toddler who watched other kids go down the slide at the park 20 times before attempting it yourself. You were the preschooler who hunkered down quietly and patiently when meeting your grandmother’s chickens. So I assumed you would be a gentle boy. And you are.   And yet, now that you’re eight, I’m beginning to understand the meaning of the phrase, “Boys will be boys.” I had my first inkling that day when you were five...

Keep Reading

Are You Watching?

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little girl playing goalie at soccer practice, color photo

I brought a book to my 7-year-old daughter’s soccer practice. To be honest, I was looking forward to one hour of time when I didn’t have to do anything but sit. No one would be asking me questions, and no one would need anything from me. I wasn’t in charge. So, I set up my lawn chair, got cozy, and opened the book. But then I happened to glance up as it was her turn to run a drill. The coach was passing each kid the ball for them to kick into the goal. She stepped forward, kicked, and made...

Keep Reading

Here’s to the Apraxia Warriors

In: Kids
Smiling little boy, color photo

This one is for my son. My second born. My kind and gentle child. My apraxia warrior. From birth, he’s been my snuggler. The one whose favorite place in the whole world was anywhere near me. The happy baby, joyful toddler, and forever smiling child. The one who’d hide behind me when strangers approached. The one who doesn’t take risks and doesn’t want to try something new easily. The one who won’t make eye contact easily. Perceived by others as shy. But here’s the thing . . . he’s not shy, he’s a warrior!  What you and I take for granted...

Keep Reading

Sick Season Is Exhausting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sick boy on couch taking a nap

I cried on the way to my daughters doctor’s appointment this morning. She is not seriously ill; I have friends who have been battling serious illness alongside their kids and I cannot imagine the toll that takes on a parent. Their experiences are far more life changing than the one I am about to share. But I cried this morning because this winter has been brutal on our little family and I am tired. I am tired of seeing my sweet kids sick and knowing there is not much I can do to ease their pain. I am tired of...

Keep Reading

Please See My Child for More than His ADHD

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy climbing playground equipment

When you see us in the store, you see a wild little boy who’s usually trying to run away from me or touching everything he can. If you see us at church, you see and hear a child who can’t sit quietly in the pews even though other kids his age are perfectly capable. If you see us at the park, you see a child who may get in the faces of other kids speaking a version of English that is hard to understand, and you may see him throw some sand or grab another child’s toy. Chances are, if...

Keep Reading

You Were First

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy smiling, black-and-white photo

You were first. You were the one we had prayed months for. The one who took the longest to get to us. The one we saw all the specialists for. The one I endured the most surgeries, procedures, and appointments for. The one we had a baby shower for. The one we turned an office into a nursery for. The one who taught us about sleepless nights. RELATED: Dear Firstborn, Because of You My Heart Grew The one who has taught us all the firsts about being parents. The one we have made the most mistakes with. The one who...

Keep Reading