Bam! Oh crap, I've been wounded… in my self-esteem, I think.

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It’s all over, now! The “experts” have weighed in. They’ve concluded that, YES, parents CAN give their children too much self-esteem. It took many years, untold millions of dollars, and God only knows how many juvenile encounters with the police for these “experts” to reach this mind-blowing conclusion.

 

            I came across an article in WebMD magazine. There’s a section of the magazine dedicated to Mind Matters. The article was titled, Brat Pack: Can children have too much self-esteem? I don’t know if she does all of them, but this article was reviewed by Patricia A. Farrell, PhD, WebMD mental health expert.

 

            “Back in the 1990s, ‘self-esteem’ was a potent buzzword in parenting and educational circles.” This was the opening line of the article. It continued, “High self-esteem, the thinking went, led to high achievement in both school and relationships. Low self-esteem was thought to lead to problems such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy, crime, and poor scholastic performance.”

 

            Virtually every gullible teacher in the public school system, young parents by the millions, and every behavioral shrink in search of a doctoral degree hopped on the “praise but don’t criticize” bandwagon. The bandwagon took off, reaching a break-neck speed, headed straight for only God knew where.

 

            The bandwagon seems to have run smack, square into the brick wall of stark reality. The impact was so intense that there are ejected bodies and body parts strewn all over the roadway of life.

 

            The bandwagon itself… well, it didn’t receive so much as a dent. It’s just sitting there awaiting the next stupid idea to come along. They’ll be no scarcity of passengers, either.

 

            “But has the combination of too much self-esteem and ‘over parenting’ led to a generation of youth whose sense of entitlement far outweighs their actual abilities—never mind their achievements?” the article asked.

 

            The article’s answer? “Some child development experts are beginning… Can you believe it? JUST beginning? to think so.” Note the word, “some.” I’ll come back to it.

 

            These so-called “some” experts concluded that, “The commonsense understanding of self-esteem has been obscured by its over-application.” Note the word, “commonsense.” I’ll come back to that, too. No! Let me get to that one right now.

 

            Good commonsense and gullibility cannot co-exist. The reason for this is that gullibility stems from ignorance. We can overcome ignorance through a willingness to learn. In the absence of such willingness, however, ignorance becomes abject stupidity, something far more difficult to overcome.

 

            Abject stupidity becomes impossible to overcome when the teachers are as equally gullible as their students are and equally unwilling to admit this fact.

 

            Unfortunately, psychologists are like economists when it comes to ego. If we locked fifty of them in a room and told them that we’d not allow them out again until they agreed on something, we’d never see the lot of them again.

 

            The evidence of self-esteem overuse has become so apparent that even the most ardent adherents of the “praise but don’t criticize” movement should be able to see it. However, only “some” behavior experts admit to it. The majority still has not seen the light, and many never will.

 

            Parents can literally destroy a child’s self-esteem early in the child’s life. I’ve seen it happen many times. However, these are parents whose own self-esteem was destroyed the same way. It’s a vicious cycle. It can be broken, but there are no easy fixes.

 

            The reason that so many people jumped on the “praise but don’t criticize” bandwagon was because the “experts” failed to mention, let alone explain, the nature of building a positive self-esteem.

 

            The prospects of praise, praise, praise, NEVER criticize, criticize, criticize, seemed so simple. Just do it this way, and the kids will turn out great. Wow! We got it all under control, now.

 

            Most people with IQs of at least 95 have long known something about the human psyche. It’s this. Rational people cannot perpetually lie to themselves. They can rationalize. They can repress the truth. But, in the final analysis, they have to view the image in the mirror and come clean.

 

            The moment that a human reaches the stage of self-awareness, age ceases to be an immunizing agent against such denial. Call it whatever you wish, but youngsters, even as young as grade school, know when they’re “dogging it,” which also makes them realize when their parents are being less than truthful with them.

 

            Try as hard as you want, but you cannot make people feel good about themselves if they flat out don’t have their own justifiable reasons for doing so. Self-esteem is as much governed by internal feelings as it is by external agents.

 

            In other words, kids, or whoever, have to experience the exhilaration of positive self-accomplishment before they feel good about themselves.

 

            High levels of self-esteem occur in people who know that they’ve done their level best. If you have done your best to accomplish something and fail, it simply means that you’re not yet good enough. Whether you’ll ever be good enough depends on your self- honesty and determination to overcome your failings.

 

            The parents of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, to some extent, knew this. They made sure their children had what they needed to succeed. They didn’t hand out pats on the back for doing things they were supposed to do anyway. They praised accomplishments, not with material things, because most of those parents didn’t have material things to hand out.

 

            I remember my mother crying at my high school graduation. My father would have been crying, too, but he had already died. She didn’t have to tell me she was proud of me. She had control of the trust fund.

 

            Let me give you readers an idea as to how the young people of my generation built our self-esteem. It was a tough, arduous job. We had to concentrate. One beer at a time and, perhaps, a joint or two. But it worked!

 

            Throughout my academic tenure, I was quite intimate with the grade of “A.” I credit the beer. I must admit, though, that I had to socialize with a “B” a couple of times. I ran low on beer.

 

            But, a “C,” never! This would have been caused by me running completely out of beer AND joints. I would have preferred to self-castrate myself with the jagged top of tuna fish can than let this happen.

 

            The very thought of receiving an “F” constituted sufficient grounds for changing my identity and moving far, far away. This high-falootin attitude changed, though, the day I met Dr. Miller.

 

            I HAD—we didn’t get to choose back then—to take a course in International Economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. The professor’s name was Dr. Irvin Miller. He wrote the textbook we used. And, he was a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s Council of Economic Advisors.

 

            In fact, one afternoon, a helicopter landed close by the Wharton School. Two big guys, wearing suits, with bulges at the side, came to our lecture room door and said, “Dr. Miller, the President is expecting you.” He left with them without so much as an EEXXXCCCUUUSSSEEE ME! Yeah, BIG WHOOP! That’s what I thought, too.

 

            Of all of the grades that I received as a student, I’m proudest of Dr. Miller’s “C.” I consumed hundreds of gallons of beer, smoked joints by the hour, took thousands of aspirin tablets, and a boatload of NoDoz extra strength pills in my quest to receive it. I even drank a cup of coffee!

 

            On the other hand, we made the man use gallons of red ink on our papers, most of it on mine. Of course, he always blamed me. He had it in for me because of it.

 

            God! I HATED that course, and not just THAT course. I grew to hate the entire field of Economics, ALL Economics professors, and ALL Economics majors. I now hate ALL schools of Economics in every university throughout the world.

 

            If they had to give a university an enema, guess where they’d stick the tube? My guess is that it would go right up the Department of Economics.

 

            Happy, now Professor Miller? Screw you; I passed your stupid course. I hope you’re dead! I not only hope you’re dead, if there’s an afterlife and a hell, I hope you’re there and you have nothing to drink but RED INK! Choke, you lousy bast…

 

            Um, sorry… I guess that’s been building up for quite some time. Anyway, passing that course did wonders for my self-esteem. Sexual ecstasy pales in comparison. Although, it’s an awfully close second.

 

            What made it so satisfying is the fact that I beat that overbearing, egocentric, self-anointed god and, I did it all by myself. I still don’t know Jack about International Economics, but I don’t care!

 

            All of you behavioral experts need to pay attention here. This is what self-esteem is all about, doing your level best and passing some white-haired, old, ivy-infested, Ivy-League-tenured old coot of a professor’s course. I mean, the old fart even had the audacity to expect the right answers to his stupid test questions.

 

            And, while I have your attention, here’s something else you need to understand. I have it on good authority that substance abuse is primarily caused by a fear of studying. Teen pregnancy is caused by too much unprotected sex. Crime is caused by the rising prices of both drugs and sex. And, poor scholastic performance is caused by too little sex. Low self-esteem has NOTHING to do with it. I’m pretty sure Dr. Miller said so, too.

 

            It’s a vicious, never-ending economic cycle. This much I learned from Dr. Miller’s International Economics course. It’s the same problem all over the world. So, if you’re going to place blame for low self-esteem, put it where it belongs: in our universities’ Economics Departments.

 

            Now that we’ve settled this issue. I’ll be back again next week. I’ve been sort of wrestling with the concept of size; you know… whether it REALLY matters. God, I hope not. Now, there’s something that’ll knock the crap out of a guy’s self-esteem!

 

Joseph Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. Copyright laws apply to all material on this site. Send your comments. Just click here.

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