Narcissism is one of the biggest dangers today, especially with kids. Parents are doing everything they can to rescue their kids from their own laziness and failures. They hand out trophies when they lose and tell them they’re wonderful no matter what. However, the only thing they’re doing is fostering empty self-esteem.
Many people don’t realize there’s a big difference between wanting something and deserving it. They think, “I deserve something because I want it,” as opposed to, “I deserve something because I earned it.” And when it comes to self-esteem, their attitude is no different.
A lot of callers come on my show saying that the reason they make bad choices is because they have low self-esteem. However, they have it backwards: it’s because they make poor choices that they lack esteem for themselves. Self-respect requires effort.
About six months ago, a Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai was shot multiple times by a Taliban gunman on the way home from school because she stood up for women’s education. She was taken to Britain and a brilliant team of surgeons saved her life. Her face looks a bit numb and she has a hard time talking, but she can use her arms and walk. This girl is a hero and inspiration to us all. Why? Because she earned it. She bravely took a public stand in a region where it’s very dangerous to do so.
Self-respect doesn’t just happen by virtue of being born or because you’re breathing – you have to earn it by what you do. I can’t believe that people actually expect themselves and their children to feel respect for themselves when they haven’t earned it.
So, how can we adjust this narcissistic attitude?
It all starts with the parents. First off, I think every parent who allows their child to have their own personal, private Facebook or Twitter account is being negligent. It gives kids a false sense of who they are in the world, and they have only one way to go from there – down and out. According to a brilliant essay by Dr. Keith Ablow, Facebook introduces kids to a world of fantasy which artificially makes them feel special, mature, powerful, and important. But ultimately the bubble bursts and the fake autobiography explodes. They end up depressed and either kill themselves or someone else.
The rule also applies to television and cell phones. Your kids should barely watch TV and only if you pick out the programs. They shouldn’t have a cell phone, but if they do, it should be an old-style phone that only allows them to make calls (not text!) in case of an emergency.
In addition, parents need to cease being weenies and start being leaders in their homes. Women have to stop dumping their kids in institutionalized day care so they can go off and “esteem themselves” by working. Furthermore, there are too many unhappy and lonely children as a result of divorced parents who are either too bored or too invested in some new guy or gal to be giving and loving. Not only does it destroy children’s homes, but it also opens the door for pedophiles who prey on neglected, lonely kids with inattentive parents.
Let’s make fewer excuses (e.g. “We’re too busy and tired,” “All the other kids are doing it,” “You can’t control it,” etc.), and parent more.