My daughter is almost eight (a few more weeks) and is the oldest of our bunch. I love her insanely, like I love all of them, but I've noticed that she's recently entered the I'm-the-oldest-ergo-I-know-everything phase in her dealings with her brothers and in some of her remarks to me.
I'm all for building self-confidence in my kids but I do think there's a fine line between self-confidence and an inflated ego; the challenge for me is how to define that line when I catch her (or any of them) in a a moment of self-ascribed superiority, one that usually involves laughing at younger siblings in a not-so-nice way.
It's no fun being Mom in those moments; I remind her - as kindly as I can given my level of personal frustration/anger - that she was once three or six, that her brothers are just acting their age. I point out that when she was that age, she didn't like people laughing at her when she tried her best to do something new and didn't quite get it right. I remind her that it's one thing to laugh with someone and quite another to laugh at someone.
And then when my words fail to have the hoped effect, I send her to her room so she can think about how she's treated her brothers and so I can cool my own jets before I lose my temper.
Is humility a lost virtue? Dictionary.com defines humility as a, "modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank." I wonder sometimes if we've lost touch with humility in our modern parenting paradigm. I read/hear/see so much about building our children's self-esteem, about instilling confidence and a sense of self that won't bend to the whims of the world.
I try to impart the importance of a core sense of self and why integrity matters to my kiddos but I also take pains to teach them that hey, the world won't bend to your whims, either. You have to follow the rules. You have to participate fully if you want to be heard. And you can't tear other people down for the sole purpose of building yourself up.
And I'm left wondering why this mommying gig becomes exponentially more challenging and filled with emotional landmines as they get older - wasn't the hard part supposed to be over already?