By taking pride in our work, we tend to deliver a job well done. What about when we have too much pride and think too highly of ourselves? While pride can be a catalyst to great success, it can also be at the root of great discontent. British author, CS Lewis, said, “Pride is like a spiritual cancer that eats up the possibility of us ever being content with our lives.”
Pride Can Be Healthy
A healthy sense of pride inspires us to be conscientious about whatever we put our name on, helping us put our best foot forward to do right by others. In these cases, it is reasonable to be proud of ourselves for a job well done. American automobile tycoon, Henry Ford, said, “Integrity is doing it right when no one is looking.” When we do our best, we foster self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect; it feels good to do good.
Responsibility vs. Achievement
There is a big difference between ordinary and special achievements. Children should complete household chores such as doing the dishes or taking out the trash dutifully and without praise or expectations for anything in return. To nurture a healthy sense of pride, fathers can introduce new challenges to help children emerge from their comfort zone, encourage growth, and—as appropriate—celebrate achievements.
Signs of Too Much Pride in Children
If children act like they “know-it-all,” this can come across as if they think they’re superior to others. Too commonly, prideful children boast or brag, claiming how much better they are than their peers.
Prideful children have often adopted a fixed mindset, are less inclined to try learning new things, and are more ungrateful, tending to believe that other people are there to accommodate them. Parents are often a part of the problem, spoiling children with so many yesses and toys that they tend to be unappreciative of what they do have. Prideful children often expect people to be at their beck and call, issuing impatient and unreasonable demands to peers and even to adults.
Pride Undermines Living Life
Pride is a natural and sometimes healthy human emotion, but it can easily denigrate into arrogance, hubris, or vanity. Prideful thoughts promote pompous attitudes and behaviors while instigating poor listening and slow (or non-existent) learning. These energies can devour us from within, spoiling our potential for fulfillment. South African writer, Andrew Murray, wrote, “Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is the first duty of the creature and is the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of humility, is the root of every sin and evil.”
Eventually, life humbles every living creature. Humility allows us to recognize that all we have is a gift from God. We can better share our time and treasure as we learn to discern between good and bad habits—of which pride is one of the most dangerous. In his book The Power of a Humble Life, American author, Richard Simmons III wrote, “The prideful heart of man causes them to believe, I do not need God in my life.”
The Power of Humility
American author, Stephen Covey, said, “Humility makes us like a vessel, a vehicle, an agent instead of the source.” Humility allows us to recognize our human limitations, inspiring us to tap into learning and growth processes. We are nothing more, and nothing less, than who we are in the eyes of God.
Help Children Avoid Pride
Young children do not yet have the maturity needed to recognize the adverse anti-social impacts pride might inflict on relationships. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about our achievements, but if we see children teetering on the line, teach them to err on the side of humility. While there is a place for pride, too much of it can be our undoing.
If parents concede to a child’s temper tantrum, we are complicit in encouraging prideful attitudes and behaviors. By yielding to their fits, we discourage them from recognizing the importance of respectful standards and expectations. Children must understand that actions have consequences.
As parents, let’s be mindful of what we say and how we say it. When children observe prideful influences within their family, discouraging prideful attitudes and behaviors can be a much more difficult process. We are role models; they are always watching—they will imitate us.
American theologian, Thomas Merton, wrote, “Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” It can be extremely healthy to meditate on areas of our lives where we are vulnerable to the infiltration of prideful attitudes and behaviors. Through this reflection, we can avoid the spiderweb of pride’s dangerous consequences by choosing humility.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
—Proverbs 16:18 KJV
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