Raising Children,  Real Talk Parenting

Please Don’t Call Yourself That

I was sitting in the car yesterday with two of my daughters, and my middle daughter said something that bothered me. A lot.

She was trying to tell us a story about something or other, but in the middle of it she got a little mixed up. She said, “Sometimes I’m stupid.”

Of course I immediately jumped in. Please don’t call yourself stupid. You’re not stupid at all. You’re smart, funny, beautiful and unique. Getting mixed up doesn’t make you stupid, and you shouldn’t think those things about yourself.

She nodded, said ok and finished her story, but that moment really made me think.

First I wondered why she would say that. Kids don’t start out thinking they’re stupid. All the young children I’ve been around pretty much think they’re awesome. I’ve never met a two year old who didn’t believe the world revolved around him or her, and that it was right to do so. Obviously that’s something you don’t want them to think forever, but my point is that this self-deprecatory talk is learned.

I’m sure fingers can be pointed everywhere – TV, movies, other kids, too many expectations, not enough expectations, too many compliments, not enough compliments – pick your expert and I’m sure they will tell you who is to blame. But in that moment riding in the car, I realized that I say those things, too.

Usually I don’t really mean it, but sometimes I do. After locking my keys in the car, “Sandra, you’re so stupid.” After forgetting to check my calendar and missing Muffins with Mom, “Sandra, you’re so forgetful.” After snapping at the kids for the fifth time in an hour, “Sandra, you’re such a bad mom.”

So probably there are lots of different things that went in to making my baby call herself stupid, but some of it can be laid at my feet. It reminds me of that old commercial they used to run about kids doing drugs. “You, alright! I learned it by watching you!” Anyone else remember that one?

positive self talk

The second thing I thought while sitting in that car, was that it is physically painful to me to hear my sweet little girl call herself stupid. My heart ached, I lost my breath and I wanted to cry.

When I look at her, I see my child. She’s absolutely wonderful and all the things I told her that she is. I don’t look at her and think critical thoughts, I look at her through eyes of love – eyes that see the beautiful creation that she is as well as the awesome potential she carries within her. The thought that she would think of herself in such a bad way made me incredibly sad.

If I, a flawed person, feel that way hearing my child criticize herself, how much more does my heavenly Father feel saddened when he hears his children speak like that? If He, the God who is love, truly sees us as His children, His gifts and His treasures, then these words we speak about ourselves surely matter to Him.

How does God feel when I call myself stupid? How does He react when I say I’m dumb, or a bad mom, or a klutz? Is he saddened? Is it painful for Him? Does He want to stop the car and give me a big hug? Does He want to say, “I made you, I know you, I love you. I see who you are and I love you. I see who you have been and I love you. I see who you will become and I love you.”?

So that’s my new resolution. I am going to start paying attention to the words I use about myself and others. I am going to stop being so critical, and start looking at myself as my Father does – through eyes of love. Then, hopefully, I’ll be able to show my kids through actions as well as words that they ARE smart. They ARE beautiful. They ARE unique and funny and worthy. They ARE loved.

Sandra Samoska is a writer with a love for Jesus and a love for family. When she's not chasing around her four kids and doing all the things, you can find her writing about the ways God shows up in our every day lives.


  • mommyhomemanager

    Isn’t it sad how we have much higher standards for our children than ourselves? I already care much more about my sons health, happiness, and wellbeing than I do about my own.
    What kind of example are we setting for them? Its so hard to teach our children the difference between self-love and self-absorption. It shouldn’t be hard to demonstrate basic self-respect. We need to set that example by always showing respect for ourselves.
    Thanks for sharing such a touchy subject.

    • Outnumbered

      Yes, that’s exactly it! They see and pick up so much that we don’t realize we’re teaching them, and oftentimes they are things that we don’t want them to learn. I love the way you put it – the difference between self-love and self -absorption. It can be tricky to teach, but so important. Thanks for commenting!

  • Melissa

    Oh my this is so true! I see this so often with children and parents as a Christian mental health therapist. The kids will beat themselves up and the parents don’t know where it’s coming from but then they beat themselves up, too. Me make such an effort to teach our children but we have to remember that they are learning from us even when we are intentionally trying to teach them! We really need to give ourselves more grace!

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