Most of us parents are very proud of our children. We are continually reinforcing their accomplishments with praise and telling them how wonderful they are. But is this healthy for them? This is a question that surely will draw much discussion and differing viewpoints.
Here is what St. Paisios has to say,
Many parents, thinking they dearly love their children, end up destroying them without realizing it. For example, a mother, who excessively loves her daughter, tells her while holding her in her arms: "I have the best child in the world." Therefore, from a very young age (when a child is unable to realize it and react against it) the child acquires a haughty mind-set and believes she is a nice person. As a result, she is unable to sense the lack of God's presence and his benevolent power in her life and of course, cannot learn to ask for Him. Consequently, she develops a self-confidence as stiff as marble, which often never goes away, since, as the time goes by, it becomes very difficult to get rid of it. The challenge of a parent is to help their child develop a healthy self-esteem which includes humility, while teaching them that all comes from God. Truly, we are all God's children and everything we have and can do comes from Him. It is important to remember to thank Him for the gifts He gives us and our ability to develop and apply them. Pride develops when we think our accomplishments are all our doing or that we are inherently better than others.
How about the extreme emphasis on sports and it competitiveness? A recent survey showed that those who participate in the major sports of baseball, basketball or football are more likely to cheat in school. These activities which emphasize personal accomplishment independent of God can lead our children away from God making it more difficult for them in later life to repent and come closer to God.
We as parents have an awesome responsibly. First we have to develop humility ourselves.
St. Paisios says,
Parents must look after their spiritual life, because apart from themselves, they are also responsible for their children. Of course, they have the excuse of having inherited their negative traits from their own parents; they have no excuse, however, for not trying to get rid of them, once they become aware of their existence. Work continually on your own relationship with God and you will continually become a better parent.