The family is the main place where we develop our self-esteem. It can also be a place where self-esteem withers.
Virginia Satir was a family therapist who influenced and touched people all over the world. She was a pioneer in the study of self-esteem, and had this to say about families: “Feelings of worth flourish in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.”
But if you grew up in a family where one or both parents were abusive, where there were unresolved mental health problems, or where alcohol or drugs were an issue, you know that family life can be very different from this description. It might be fair to say that most of us have grown up in challenging environments. And these environments can be downright damaging.
Perhaps, now it’s time for you to take on a parenting role, and maybe you’re wondering if you can break the cycle. Or maybe you’ve been a parent for a while and realize you could be doing a better job of it. Whatever your situation, you’ll benefit from taking an honest look at your strengths and limitations. Just because you haven’t experienced a nurturing environment doesn’t mean that you can never learn how to create one. The mere fact that you want to make this type of change puts you that much closer to your goal.
You see, when you acknowledge and accept the past, reach out for new understanding (as you are doing now), and then decide you’d like to raise your children in a more nurturing way, you are already breaking the cycle. And you are building your own self-esteem – the first step in helping your own children build theirs.