My Significant Self - by Tina Salloum
or my personal favorite - “easy on the eyes.” No matter how often I heard such flattering remarks, I never felt
“attractive.” To me, my admirers were exercising poor judgment or just had bad taste.
Even if I felt a look of interest, was held captive by a
locking, penetrating gaze from the opposite sex, the accolades & attention just never really sunk in.
What did sink in, dug in actually, was this overwhelming feeling of self-doubt which, from very early on, had become a way of life for me. I think back to Grammar School….My dark upper lip hair, over-sized eyeglasses & bozo-like hair days, combined with first
grade retention, didn’t do much to bolster my self-esteem. Although I was always fairly athletic, I was almost always picked last or next to last on teams in physical education. In
short, I wasn't recognized much by anyone for anything early in life.
Not that I minded much - then. For most
of my young existence, I pushed my need for recognition deep into my subconscious & got on with my life. Recognition was for the terminally beautiful, brilliant & talented, I used to think. I didn’t want or need anyone to dote on me for any reason. I would never be self-absorbed, I told myself time & time again. I was above that.
About 10 years ago however,
while still in my early 20's, I could feel it happening. My modest mentality began to recede into the depths of my consciousness,
soon to be replaced by a new, much vainer self. My need for recognition surfaced like the great white shark in the classic film thriller “Jaws”: Menacing - it meant business.
Thus, began my makeover campaign. “I'll not be ignored,” was the new self-talk I fed myself. I decided it was time for contact lenses, make-up, electrolysis & to tame my wild, frizzy hair. And it
started to happen. Inviting smiles, flattering words...
Still, I found the complimentary
words & gestures heralded my way to be hollow:
an outer shell holding
Like water droplets
rolling over my skin, compliments would roll off my back & evaporate. There was nothing left of them to show that they
were there, that they ever existed at all. They were just moments in time.
Except for one
moment, however. I don’t know if I was just having a particularly good make-up & hair day or what, but it
was quite a different moment from any moment I had ever experienced before.
I met a stranger
for lunch one weekday afternoon to discuss a free-lance newspaper piece I was putting together on a local summer event. My
lunch partner, who was hosting the event, was to supply me with enough information about the event to work on the piece.
He was reviewing his paperwork when he came across a brief physical description of me he had jotted
down. The description was not very detailed: height, hair & eye color, wardrobe style. Not much else. He looked up at
me for a few moments - dead silence filled the air, all expression stripped from his face - & then a half-smile grew into
a full smile. “You didn’t tell me how pretty you are.”
I was silent. The words seemed to be amplified over the restaurant loud speaker. I could feel the weight of the neighboring
diners staring in our direction, waiting for my response.
Further, feeling nervous,
tense & rushed to obtain the information & return to work on time, the last thing I felt at that particular moment
was attractive. Finally, I mustered the customary “Thank you” & it was over. Back to the business at hand.
Immediately after he had said it, though, I remember genuinely feeling “pretty.” Somewhere deep within myself, I didn't question or doubt the statement. I accepted it for what it was - a compliment & didn't try to silently qualify it or reason it away by telling myself he has bad
taste or that he's just trying to make me feel good.
It was a spontaneous
complimentary statement & for the first time, my personal response was also spontaneous:
a genuine feeling of self-appreciation.
It comes by many names:
Self-esteem. Self-concept. Self-respect. To me, self-recognition is the key word here. The moment when we first recognize that we're attractive &/or intelligent, charming, talented & all other wonderful things.
Most of us are socially trained to think of the pursuit of praise as somehow negative. Those who crave attention are self-absorbed jerks. It's far better to be self-effacing than vain in the face of others, we often think. This modest mentality, however, downplays the important role recognition plays in our lives.
Recognition is crucial to healthy emotional & psychological development. We need to know that we're recognized for our talents, our intelligence & yes - how we physically appear to others.
In school it’s
the honor roll, in sports & the arts it’s trophies & awards, in the work world it consists of verbal praise
& pay raises & better job offers. In the dating world & most other social arenas, it’s our appearance.
But if praise rolls off our backs instead of absorbed into our minds & hearts then the attention is meaningless. The words & gestures are empty. We don’t need hollow words & gestures to fill us up. Only we can do that.
I now understand,
after years of learning & growing with myself, that it wasn't Elementary School or any one person or group of persons
responsible for my low self-concept but my complete lack of self-recognition in my younger days. It isn't what others failed to see in me but what I failed to see in myself that caused me to feel less than adequate.
One moment of self-recognition, I now realize, is worth much more than a lifetime
of compliments & attention others may lavish upon us, for self-approval isn't externally dependent. Like all good things
in our lives, we make it happen; we make the words ring true!!
Some school practices can create obstacles to parental
Parents of high school students want to be involved in their children's
education, but many high school practices create obstacles to such participation, according to a study released this fall
by University of Chicago researchers.
Increased communication with & support for parents
play a key role in reform efforts to increase student achievement.
According to the study, titled "Changing Standards, Changing Relationships:
Building Family-School Relationships to Promote Achievement in High Schools," high schools will have a hard time pursuing
higher standards & achievement if students aren't more engaged in educational activities at home & at school &
if parents aren't more involved in supporting their adolescents' education.
"Parents of high school students want to know more about their kids'
education," said Melissa Roderick, Principal Investigator for the study & Associate Professor in the School of Social
Service Administration. "They want to know about how to get ready for college, what the academic expectations are, advice
on working with their kids. But many high schools are set up to discourage that sort of interaction."
School-level obstacles to participation include:
- Communications with parents that focus
on rules & disciplinary problems rather than achievement or academic expectations.
- Large, bureaucratic schools that make
it difficult to find a teacher who knows the student's work.
- High school students who study new &
complicated subject matter to which their parents weren't exposed.
Researchers also found that Hispanic parents feel the least able
to support their children's education at the high school level & teachers in largely Hispanic schools report the lowest
levels of parent communication. Language barriers & a lack of familiarity with American high schools were cited as significant
challenges to the involvement of Hispanic parents.
According to the study, Hispanic parents were most likely to want
more information about the American educational system or raising teenagers. They were least likely to report being able to
count on schools for help or having a designated contact person at the school.
"Hispanic parents whose children attend majority Hispanic schools
experience the most changes in their relationships with & support from schools as their children move to high school,"
said Susan Stone, a researcher at the University's School of Social Service Administration.
"Communication may decrease because of overcrowding, school resource
constraints facing majority Hispanic high schools, a shortage of Spanish-speaking high school teachers &/or cultural barriers
between teachers & parents."
However, communication in high schools has begun to improve over
the past 4 years, the researchers found. Chicago high school teachers today report better communication & more positive
relationships with parents than they did in 1994. High schools that have an intensive focus on improving student achievement
have seen the greatest gains in communication. More than half of the schools where teachers once described a decline in communication
have been reconstituted.
Schools that have the lowest level of student achievement are also
the most likely to describe a very low level of parent involvement. But traditionally low-achieving schools struggling to
improve under reforms have shown the greatest improvement in communication.
Fenger High School on Chicago's South Side has made improved parent-school
relationships an important part of its goal to end its probationary status with Chicago Public Schools. Two years ago, 38
Chicago public high schools were placed on probation when 15% of the students or less didn't meet national reading norms.
New programs include skill-building for parents, extra counseling
& a parent liaison for freshman & creating extra opportunities for parents & adolescents to be together.
"When you talk to parents individually & in conference," said
Fenger Principal Janice Ollarvia, "what you often find is that many of them don't feel adequate
to help their kids with things like homework."
Prior research finds that adolescents do better & stay in school
- Parents talk with their children about education & provide day-to-day monitoring & support
- Parents set & hold high expectations for their children.
- Parents help their children develop problem-solving skills.
- Shools communicate to parents what their child is doing in school and what the teacher's expectations
are so parents and teachers share common goals for the child.
The study is the second in a series of research briefs produced by
the Student Life in High Schools Project, with assistance from the Consortium on Chicago School Research and the Chicago Public
Schools. The purpose of the briefs is to produce analysis that will assist high school improvements.
The Steans Family Foundation, the McDougal Family Foundation, the Center for Research
on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (OERI-GR
source: click here
gives a special kind of love. You can see it in all the little things they do for their families. No problem is too big or
too small. They can turn a frown upside down or a grumble into a smile or giggle. You can tell them anything & they always
have time to listen. A grandparent is a good confidante. Even their voices are full of love & laughter in the whispers
& stories that they tell. Grandparents give the best hugs - bear hugs, goodbye hugs, "don't cry" hugs & hugs for no
reason at all except that they love you. Grandparents have the gift of making people happy - especially when you need a little
extra love & attention."
This quote from
the Foster Grandparent Program in Montana describes the important role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren.
One of the pleasures in
life is being a grandparent. To a large extent, this is because older adults can enjoy grandchildren on their own terms
without feeling responsible for them. This fact sheet highlights the special gifts grandparents & grandchildren give to
help children feel secure & loved. Grandparents can give love & attention within the rules & limits of parents.
They can enjoy their grandchildren without going outside the boundaries the family has established.
Children can never
have too much of the right kind of love, love that helps them grow & develop, that reduces anxiety, tension & hurt.
Love that adds security, trust, acceptance & understanding is always needed. However, if grandparents spoil & pamper
or try to possess, their love is harmful rather than helpful.
The love the grandchild
experiences with his grandparents will depend upon the role the grandparents play in the relationship. With fun-seeking grandparents,
the grandchild will establish a mutually joyous relationship. These grandparents are informal & playful, joining the child
for the purpose of having fun. Authority lines aren't a part of this grandparenting style.
a formal style take an interest in the child, give treats & indulgences & occasionally help the parents, but see their
role in more defined terms. These grandparents don't offer advice & leave parenting to the parents. From the formal grandparents,
the grandchild will derive a certain satisfaction, knowing that nurturing & some contact are forthcoming.
are distant may feel remote from the grandchild & acknowledge little effect of the grandchild on their own life. Although
these grandparents maintain a benevolent attitude, give gifts an go thru certain motions, there's little feeling or interaction.
children to know, trust & understand other people. If the child's contact with adults is limited just to parents,
he or she is likely to have a narrower view of the world & other people.
In turn, grandchildren
may find grandparents good listeners, helpers & close friends. Grandparents know the world isn't going to end because
a child doesn't do everything perfectly.
Children can learn
that grandma's & grandpa's arms can be just as comforting as mother's & father's. They discover their grandparents'
house to be a safe & happy home away from home. They learn how to be flexible & to adjust to the ways grandmother
& grandfather think, feel & behave, which are different from the way their parents do. Visits to grandparents can
be an enlivening experience for the children & grandchildren.
help children bridge the gap between the past & present. Grandparents who have leisure time to discuss problems with their
grandchildren can contribute a sense of history & perspective to family discussions.
Many see today's
grandparents as experts in change who have much to offer children. Grandparents can communicate a sense of wonder to children.
They've seen the first airplanes, talking movies, televisions, computers & satellites. They can inspire in their grandchild
a future in which almost anything can be accomplished.
Most children enjoy
hearing grandparents tell about life when they were growing up. Grandparents who are able to share the rich heritage of the
past with children give them a deeper, broader foundation upon which to base their own lives & to build new knowledge.
Sharing the past in person is best, but it can also be shared thru letters & tape recordings.
One of the main roles
of grandparents is to serve as the focal point of the wider family of aunts, uncles & cousins. Even when families live
apart, grandparents bind them together emotionally. They help family members remember all they have in common.
provide children with experiences & supervision their own parents don't have time or money for. A grandparent who has
the time & money to take his grandchild to the fair, circus, museum or on vacation is greatly enriching the life of the
In addition, grandparents
can give children a sense of values & a philosophy of life which is the result of years of living. Valuable experiences
& lessons learned by living need to be shared. Look closely at your everyday life. What could you share with a child?
give children a wholesome attitude toward old age, especially in western culture where youth is favored. Children need to
learn to respect their elders. Older people who live rich, fruitful, meaningful lives are a good example for children.
Best Gifts for Grandparents
give grandparents their affection. Their love & company are probably the best gifts they can give to their grandparents.
They love them anyway, but it may be that there are more & new ways that they can show their love.
If the grandchildren
live with or near their grandparents, they might visit them occasionally. Even a few minutes of their time will make life
happier for themselves as well as for their grandparents.
learn from their grandparents. When grandchildren learn from grandparents, they're doing more than just developing their own
understanding. They're also helping their grandparents satisfy their need to feel adequate.
It's good for the grandchildren, as well as for the grandparents.
let their grandparents enjoy them. Sometimes, grandchildren can satisfy grandparents in ways that their own children didn't. Parents enjoy watching their own children grow up, but because parenthood
is often hectic, they can't sit off & watch their children's growth in a peaceful, unhurried sort of way. Grandparents can.
let grandparents live their own lives. Older people like to do things in their own ways just as younger people like to do
things in their ways. They've spent years developing habits & preferences. They like to do the same things in the same
ways even if they seem old-fashioned to the grandchildren.
an important role in a family. A sense of continuity as a family, a tie with the past, ongoing affection, personal interest & help in a crisis make grandparents invaluable. With the birth of children, grandparents come into
their own & can greatly enrich the lives of the children as well as parents. We aren't always smart about these widening
relationships. All of us, grandparents, parents & children, have much to learn about valuing these important relationships.
There are many joys of grandparenting. The grandparenting experience is the foundation for establishing positive family relationships.
Prepared by Louise Franck Cyr, Extension human development specialist
Adapted from Joys of Grandparenting, Cooperative Extension Service,
University of Arkansas, prepared by Dr. Irene K. Lee.
For more information on family issues, contact your county Extension office or the Family Living Office, UMCE, 5717 Corbett Hall, Orono, ME 04469-5717, (207) 581-3448/3104 or 1-800-287-0274 (in Maine).
Published and distributed in furtherance
of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University
of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the
U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.