One of my young sons just brought me some tiny stuck-together Legos to unsnap. As I helped him, it occurred to me that he had asked for me help instead of trying it himself because I am an adult and, in his mind, more capable than he.
But then I remembered that even as a child I used to unsnap rows of thin, tightly connected Legos for my brothers. I guess it’s something I’ve always been good at doing. Since I was efficient at the task, they continued letting me do it, and I was glad to help. After all, the way my brothers treated me growing up lead me to believe that my worth–my value–was intrinsically linked to how useful I was. That is, I felt that what I could do for others was what endeared me to them and made me worthy of them. This harmful notion hindered me when I began dating; coming of age, I slowly began to recognize how harmful and objectifying this view is. No person’s worth or value should be judged by their behavior. In a world of economic significance–checks and balances and bottom lines–it often seems that one’s abilities, skills, and character become one’s currency for material measurement. But the interpersonal relationships that ought to be crafted between us, specifically the sacred ties of families, marriages, and intimate relationships, ought not depend on the false notion that what one has to offer determines how much one is valued. These days, I am happy to have finally begun rejecting this notion as I endeavor to teach my children that they are intrinsically valuable and worthy, no matter what they do. Next to imparting the principles of my faith that I hope they will accept as their own, the single most important thing I wish to teach my children is that their worth is not dependent on their behavior nor on what they can do for me, their siblings, or society.
What is the most important thing you want to teach, or feel you have taught, your children?