I Teach My Teens to Love Themselves More Than They Love Others

My son lost a good friend recently. It wasn’t because his friend moved away, or because they got into a big fight. It was because he realized that this person he’d been spending time with wasn’t the best thing for him.

It wasn’t an easy decision and it took him almost a year to speak up about it. He liked hanging out with his friend, especially at the beginning of their friendship, but my son soon came to the realization that he was being used and often disrespected in front of his other friends.

self love statement written on arm
More than anything I want to teach my kids self-love. (Twenty20 @morgplmad)

My teen ended a friendship recently, and I’m glad he did

After we talked about it a few times and I told him my thoughts on the situation–that he seemed, at least to me, much happier when he didn’t spend time with this particular friend–my son took matters into his own hands and stopped reaching out and declined any invitations from his friend.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. But as his mother, I am so glad that he decided to walk away from this friendship. I’m not sure I would have at his age.

One of the things I didn’t consider when I had kids was how much I’d have to teach them.

I’m not just talking about tying their shoes or zipping a jacket. I mean the big stuff; the heavy things like knowing your self worth and when to say no to someone in order to preserve your sanity.

Those lessons come from experience. Those lessons come from mistakes and tears and broken hearts.

I know I can’t just spew out words and my kids will automatically absorb it. And I realize, to them, I really don’t know what I’m talking about, but when I look back at my life and see how I’ve spent my four and a half decades, there’s something that sticks out in my mind. I often think that if I’d loved myself more than I loved others (or at the very least, just as much), I would have saved myself from a lot of turmoil.

I want my teens to learn about self-love.

I know we aren’t brought up that way, really. We are taught to be kind; to share; to not be rude and to put others’ feelings before your own.

We are trained to sacrifice ourselves and not speak up.

While I want my kids to grow up to be kind and thoughtful, more than anything else I want to teach them self love—the kind that gives them the freedom to feel worthy and allows them to get away from a toxic situation.

I want them to listen to their own voice before anyone else’s. I don’t want to snuff out their own instincts, because I want their internal voice to be louder than someone else’s opinion.

I know this is one of the hardest things we can teach our kids and ourselves. I still wonder whether I should burn my favorite candle if someone else isn’t home to enjoy it with me. I still struggle with saying yes when I should say no. I still give people too many chances in the hope that my willingness to work on our relationship will be enough to sustain it.

It’s easy to put ourselves at the end of the line and let others move ahead while taking what they need. Being quiet and not speaking up in difficult situations becomes a life-long habit pretty fast.

When you have kids, you want the world for them. You want them to stand tall and strong and be brave and go after whatever they want.

In order to do that though they have to love themselves first. And in order to teach that, we have to lead by example.

Maybe my son will rekindle his friendship and maybe he won’t. This won’t be the last time he has to choose between his own happiness and someone else’s.

But I’d say he’s off to a really good start.

You May Also Enjoy:

There Are A Lot Of Things I Miss, But Not The Teen Angst

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

Read more posts by Katie

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.