By Sholain Govender-Bateman – Pretoria-based New Media journalism lecturer and editor who worked for The Star & edited magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry Bateman. Visit her on Twitter @sholain
I think that many of us parents are focussed on giving our kids the best that we can afford and making them confident and independent, teaching them to always seek the best for themselves… but how do we know that we’re not raising our kids to be so self-involved and narcissistic that they forget about other people’s feelings and lives and just carry on thinking that the world revolves around them well past toddlerhood?
I don’t profess to be a perfect parent; in fact the whole point of this piece is to express my fears of raising self-obsessed, disrespectful children. However, I do think that hubby and I try our best to teach our children the value of what they have and the importance of respect. Will that stop them from always focusing on number one when they reach adulthood? I don’t know.
We’re raising our children in a society so different from the one we grew up in. Millions of people are part of online communities and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter that encourage self-promotion, aka showing off. Taking selfies (photos of yourself) and posting them online are so popular that it was literally Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2013!
Of course, one can argue that people have always been self-serving…even if they are discreet about it. Even though you won’t admit it, whenever you make a choice, one deciding factor is how it will benefit you or effect you. Does this make us bad or narcissistic? Maybe not so much, but I think that we are grooming our children, voluntarily or not, to live their lives based on what other people think of them and to prove to everyone else that they are better looking, smarter and more spectacular than anyone else.
I’m not a psychologist but I do think that I want confident children, but they should not be over-confident to the extent that they can’t accept criticism. I want them to handle failure with grace but I don’t want to raise them thinking that they are failures. And most importantly, I want them to love who they are without the need to prove their worth to anyone else or to feel the desire to change for other people.
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