Providing a Catholic framework on the truth and meaning of sexuality, love, and family

Read our New Parent and Teen Tips for August

back-to-school13 Tips for Parents: Reinforce True Worth

Heading back to school can be either a rude awakening from the lazy days of summer or maybe a welcome return to normalcy in your household.   Or maybe even a little of both.  One thing is certain—for parents it is a flurry of supply lists, meetings and schedules.   In the midst of the whirlwind, remember to take some time to evaluate the new challenges your child may be facing and how they can stay grounded as their routine changes.

You’ve probably heard a lot about what affects your child’s self-esteem, or how they feel about themselves.  It changes depending on the day, their grades, their science fair project and if their friend saved them a seat at lunch.  As parents, many of these things are simply out of your control.  However, more powerful than self-esteem is the reality of your child’s true worth that God created them and that their value comes not from how they feel about themselves, but that they are known and loved by him.

While you can’t control your child’s feelings, here are a few ways that parents can help their children remember their true worth:

  1. Listen 

This can be taxing when the day has been long and the drama from a school day can get complicated and petty and it can be tempting to dismiss a story with, “I’m sure it’ll all be fine” or an attempt to fix the problems being recounted.  While some issues do require your intervention, there are many times where   just being heard is all the reinforcement your child needs.   Consider including “highs and lows” in the     dinner time or carpool routine, allowing each child to share the high and low point of their day.

  1. Monitor Internet

If your child uses the Internet, know what sites they are visiting and who they are interacting with. There is a relatively new site,  that allows users to anonymously ask questions.  This seems mundane until one observes the drama that unfolds, with users anonymously sharing gossip and criticism.  Check browser history and apps installed on phones, tablets and mp3 players regularly    to know who your child is talking to and how they may be affecting their self esteem.

  1. Encourage Service without Incentives

While your child may be required to do community service for the Sacrament of Confirmation or for a certificate at school, encourage them to go beyond what is mandatory and discern what unique gifts and talents they have been given by God that they can offer the world.

3 Tips for Teens: Remember Your True Worth

Back to school.  A phrase that conjures up excitement, dread, nervousness, anticipation and the smell of sharpened pencils and clean white paper.  It’s time for the laid-back days of summer to end and the competitive routine of classes, lunches and team try-outs to resume.

If you’ve attended Family Honor’s Real Love & Real Life program, you’ll remember learning about self esteem.  Self esteem is simply how you feel about yourself and it can go up or down depending on what’s happening to you that day.  A new school year can be a roller-coaster for your self-esteem as you meet new people, try new subjects and experience new disappointments.

No matter how you feel about yourself, though, it’s important to remember that your true worth comes from God—not how other people treat you.  While self-esteem may go up or down depending on how you did on a math test or if your lab partner is cute, your true worth doesn’t change with your feelings.  It comes from being created, loved and known by God.

As you prepare for the beginning of school by brushing up on your summer reading, re-stocking your notebook and cleaning out your book bag, think about what affects your self-esteem and how you can remind yourself of your true worth.  Need some ideas?  Try these:

  1. Make a point of having a meal with your family 

Sometimes our families can drive us crazy, but even on the worst day it is the best place to be.  We can get so caught up in the drama of school—worrying about who’s not talking to who and who thinks we’re funny—our family is an important refuge from it all!

  1. Spend less time on social networks and more time socializing 

When we spend a whole night sitting at home scrolling through our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter news feed, it’s easy to think that everyone is having more fun than we are.  If you spent that time hanging out with a friend, reading a book or watching a movie you can focus on having fun for    yourself—not the fun everyone else is having.

  1. Remember what matters

When you feel overwhelmed, stop and ask yourself, “what will I think about this in five days?  In five months?  In five years?”  God has made you unique—there are gifts and talents that you have that reveal Him to others in a way no one else can.  Figure out what these are (through prayer and help from others) so that you can share them with the world!