Without getting boastful, let's just say that she does very well in school. From everything I can tell her sister will be doing so as well when she gets to real school age.
I did very well in school, so this is not surprising to me.
What is surprising is the new questions it has raised in my mind as a parent.
As a teacher, I always tried to find ways to praise my students for their accomplishments. I felt it encouraged them to try harder and push themselves next time.
What never occurred to me was the issue of pride.
Now that I am a parent on the other end of the child's life, I am beginning to wonder what role pride plays in school accomplishments.
Here are a few things I know:
- God hates pride. It is a very despicable sin in His eyes. In Proverbs 6 it is listed with murder as one of the sins considered an abomination. That's serious talk!
- Pride is easy and natural for sinful humans.
- Our abilities are gifts from God and are intended to be used by Him.
- God wants us to do our best. To do less than our best does not please Him. To have a child who did not work to her full ability in school would not please the Lord just as much as having a child who is filled with pride over her abilities.
Ok, so here is a scenario. A child comes home from school and announces that her reading group has finished x number of books, and other reading groups have not.
The child is stating this as a fact, not in a boastful way.
Is this pride? Is this sin? I do not think so. She is just making an observation.
Yet, when the child comes home and says, "Me and so and so counted to 100 today, and no one else could do it." that strikes me as pride.
Yet, is a small child really able to understand the concept of pride? There are definitely spiritual concepts that she does not comprehend. Should she not be taking pleasure in accomplishing a hard task?
Do we not take pleasure in accomplishing hard tasks? I know when I complete a large writing assignment and have worked hard on it, it brings me pleasure. I do not feel this is sinful, so perhaps it is not pride.
So what I am having trouble discerning is this: where does a biblical view of pride fall in applauding children's accomplishments. If my child is standing in front of the crowd saying lines in the school play some day, I am going to feel parental pride. Is this wrong? Is it wrong for the child to also feel a sense of pleasure at this?
Perhaps we have termed "pride" what should be termed something else, like "sense of accomplishment." Perhaps there is more to the biblical definition of pride than just feeling good about something you accomplished.
I know for now, when my daughter is happy about something she accomplished in school, I am going to be happy for her, but I am also going to point out that her good mind came from God and it is something to be thankful for. If she starts to notice others that struggle, I am going to have to come up with a strategy to help her be loving and kind and not boastful. I lost a lot of friends in school because I was book smart and did not carry it well, and I want to protect her from that, while also teaching her about the biblical view of pride.