Written by Doctor G

Kids and Self-Esteem – Use Birthday Power

Ari's birthday 045Do your kids’ birthdays make you feel nostalgic? 

Mine do.

I’m not much for reliving the birth story – good news for my boys I think.  That’s probably because I turned into a weeping lunatic for about the first solid week after each of my sons was born.  Not my best moments.

Birthdays make me think of growth and possibilities.  I spoke to a friend recently on the ninth birthday of her son.  “It’s half over,” she said.  “He’ll leave home in nine more years.”  It’s true, almost certainly, and I’m sure that this kind of countdown is inevitable.

For me, though, when I think with worry of the coming years I think of the shell of teenager-ness.  Those years when the bright light that just shines out of our children goes a little dimmer as they focus inward.  That time when they will have to do the hard work of separating from our family to figure out who they are on their own.  I think I will miss them more during those years than I will after they leave the house.

Don’t fear the teens.

All the people I’ve known and loved through their teenage years have, thankfully, come back.  Their development well underway, these late teenagers or early adults break free of the cocoon and show the beautiful soul that was always in there.  They show it to the world, and even to their parents.

In the meantime, I use my birthday musings each year to build another piece of the support I want to give them to get through that time.

I write a letter.

Every year, close to each child’s birthday (OK, sometime in the three months after, or definitely before we start planning the party for the next year), I write a letter about their year.  I describe a little about their schedule and their friends and their teachers.  I write some about their activities and interests.  I try to include what they currently plan to be when they grow up.  Most of all, I talk about their strengths and challenges, and what they have overcome, with a word or two about our hopes for them.

I keep these Birthday Books in the fireproof safe, because they are among our most cherished possessions.  I hope that, when our kids don’t like us and don’t believe we like them, they will reread these letters.  I pray that they will find themselves in these books, an outside but loving view of themselves so that they can shine some light inside the often painful cocoon of being a teenager.

But you could keep these on the Cloud, and spice them up with some pictures (that “Insert Picture” function is pretty easy!). Pictures are another great way to show our kids what we value about them and how big a place they have in our hearts.

It is never too late to start a Birthday Book.  I’ve always thought it would be cool to ask some other people who love my boys to write a letter to include.  Haven’t gotten around to it, but I still could.  You could too.


Do you have any special birthday traditions?

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