The person I admire most is Oprah Winfrey. I was riveted by her recent Note to Self, written to her 19 year old self and broadcast on her friend Gayle King's hour on CBS Morning News.
Oprah's brief narrative followed her career and the state of her self esteem as it evolved from defining herself by how she saw herself through others' eyes on the way to seeing herself through her own eyes.
As usual, Oprah's simple nugget led me to reflect on how important it is to have loving eyes look back at ours. When all is right in our world, as children we see ourselves first through the loving eyes of our mothers. The longer we have that, the better our chances.
The best mothers I know have children who have a good sense of who they are. While that self esteem does not shield them from the difficulties of life, it does give them tools to succeed.
But what about children who do not have a parent who adores them?
Once again it was on an Oprah program perhaps, 15 years ago, when I was first riveted by a guest who had written a book about how we should reflect joy when we see children. One person doing that, she explained, could make the difference in a child's whole life!
The realization that one person can literally
change a child's life was a profound thought for me.
I did not. It was not okay.
It was that very day when I decided to consciously project my love for the children in my life. Some came naturally, others required awareness. Once my face lit up for all the children in my life, it enhanced all those relationships.
The realization that one person can literally change a child's life was a profound thought for me. Not for teachers certainly, who surely keep on keeping on with this thought leading their way. But the knowledge that belief in a child can fuel that child to a better life is not something that everyone has internalized.
It is so easy to love our own children and grandchildren that we do not always take a moment to give other children a warm smile, a compliment, encouragement. Take, for instance, the opportunity to tell the less attractive child in a pair or group, how pleased you are to meet him or her. Recognize the child whom everyone is not making a fuss over. Comfort the child who is feeling left out.
Do you remember a compliment from long ago, given to you by a neighbor, a great aunt, even a stranger? What words about you shaped your self esteem and therefore your life? I can recall most of the compliments in my life that sustained me!
What words can we offer a child today that they may recall throughout their entire life? Mothers can't be everywhere.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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