Children value themselves to the degree they have been valued.
No child can see themselves directly, they see themselves from the reflection of others.
We hold the key to other people's self-image, especially our kids.
(Suzy from Centacare).
It is confronting to reflect on what my children see reflected in me. Somehow they are present for all those little moments when I react first, think later. I really wish that I could keep my best moments for them, rather than them seeing my selfishness so often. The pity is that they cannot see it for what it really is - MY selfishness. Instead it lays itself upon their pictures of themselves.
Thankfully, there are times when I am able to reflect love and acceptance, patience and enjoyment.
Therapists talk about the 'gleam in the mother's eye' or mirror transference which help us to develop a coherent self. A bible college lecturer I knew used to love to talk about Martin Buber's description of the I-Thou encounter between God and us, in which we are fully known and fully accepted.
Practically, I want to spend more time cherishing my children and accepting them. Much of what is going on in their minds is actually a mystery to me. (Its for another time, to ponder how much is mine to discover and how much is theirs to guard and protect).
My 6 year old and I talked today about being taught to 'Stop...Think...Do' in her kindergarten class. I could take a lesson from her teacher about that, please. And then practice it the next time something is spilled, broken, drawn on, forgotten or just not where its supposed to be.