I agree with Hinkley (2015)’s three most influential elements in the development of healthy self-esteem in women: relationship with parents and upbringing as a child, presence or absence of abuse, and genetics. I believe the upbringing one receives from one’s parents and support or lack thereof strongly influences every aspect of one’s life because it is the foundation we all stand on. If the foundation is not firm then there might be delayed development or issues later on in life like low self-esteem. It also makes perfect sense that abuse and/or traumatic events would negatively influence self-esteem because the act or experience communicates to the child that they are inadequate or doing something wrong. How can you feel important or worthy of love when you only hear the opposite, are ignored, or physically shown that your body is not to be respected?
Thankfully, this was not my experience. Our presentations talked about how parents in general impact self-esteem but Scheffler and Naus (1999) explained how fathers specifically influence self-esteem and other factors as well. “It was found that the more affirmed women [felt] by their fathers the higher their self-esteem” (p. 42). I had a father who was my biggest fan/cheerleader in athletics and my overall biggest supporter. He always told me I could do anything and when I had dreams of playing basketball professionally he told me even that was possible. While the support of my mom was extremely significant I feel as though I am a confident, independent woman because my father showed me my value and worth from a very young age. This is very different than the experience of two of my closest friends. One’s father was non-existent and the other was always present but both verbally and physically abusive. I have seen them both struggle with low self-esteem and feel as though they have to be perfect all the time. They also have sought out love through intimacy with guys in ways that were not pleasing to God. In talking through it with them, it is clear they are looking for the affirmation of their fathers. I know one definitely has characteristics of the imposter while the other has characteristics of the rebel (Hinkley, 2015).
In encouraging my friends or helping a woman improve her self-esteem in a counseling setting, I think it is important to remind them who they are first in Christ and that God is the perfect father. As it says in Ephesians 2:10, “ For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (New King James Version). Even if their earthly father was not affirming, they can find their identity in God and the love He has shown, namely in sending His son. Then I would, as described by Hinkley (2015), help them replace self-defeating beliefs with realistic and healthy beliefs through cognitive therapy. I like the idea of a daily thought and feeling record to help a woman see clearly how positive or negative her thoughts and feelings are and how this impacts her. Learning to re-condition her mind with the positive by casting down thoughts and speaking truth can be helpful too.
Hinkley, P. (2015). Low self-esteem- consequences and treatment [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from:https://learn.liberty.edu/bbcswebdav/courses/COUN687_D02_201540/COUN%20687/Coun%20687%20Self-Esteem%20-%20Part%20II%20%28LMS%29/res/index.html
Hinkley, P. (2015). Self-esteem and self-concept development [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from:https://learn.liberty.edu/bbcswebdav/courses/COUN687_D02_201540/COUN%20687/Coun%20687%20Self-Esteem%20-%20Part%20I%20%28LMS%29/res/index.html
Scheffler, T. S., & Naus, P. J. (1999). The relationship between fatherly affirmation and a woman’s self-esteem, fear of intimacy, comfort with womanhood and comfort with sexuality. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 8(1), 39-45. Retrieved from:http://content.ebscohost.com/ContentServer.asp?T=P&P=AN&K=2041325&S=R&D=a9h&EbscoContent=dGJyMNLe80Sep7c4zOX0OLCmr02eqK9Sr6u4TLGWxWXS&ContentCustom
Everyone, not just women, have self-esteems. For women self-esteem is at its peak during the ages of eight and ten (Clinton & Langberg, 2011). For this reason I believe childhood experiences are a large element in healthy self-esteem and to knowing how God sees a woman. For women it is more about the relationships in developing self-esteem (Kopala & Keitel, 2003). Our relationships as children and how we are treated by others and God plays a factor in self-esteem.
First, as children we are only beginning to form who we are. As mentioned in our presentation some factors that affect us with our parents is being praised, listened to, respectfully spoken to, getting parents full attention and hugs. Girls differ from boys as they grow in relation to their parents. Girls tend to keep close to their mothers while boys do not (Kopala & Keitel, 2003). In research done by Scheffler and Naus (1999) on father’s affirmation and how it relates to woman’s self-esteem, they found that both were positively correlated. However, I think studies on both mother and father’s affirmation would be more insightful when looked at together as a parenting team. During the ages of eight and ten confidence is at its highest for young girls (Clinton & Langberg, 2011). It is a time to build confidence. Other outside factors in child hood also play roles in self-esteem like winning in sports and developing friendships that are trustworthy, as stated in the presentation this week.
Lastly, in self-esteem it is important to see how God sees women and his creations. Our relationship with God and who we are in relationship to him should be one of the most important things in self-esteem. It is definitely what I expect to incorporate into my counseling to assist women in improving their self-esteem. Clinton and Langberg (2011) said it best hen stating, “God created us to be satisfied in Him” (p. 256). God created us in His image and there should be none greater. In developing a healthy self esteem it is important to know who we are in Christ.
In conclusion, self-esteem is an important development in the lives of everyone. Childhood and how we are treated during this time plays a key factor in self-esteem. When viewing who we are it is also necessary to see how God views us as we are His creation. Through counseling I hope to add elements of scripture and exploring the past with clients to see their healthy selves.
Clinton, T., & Langberg, D. (2011). The Quick Reference Gude to Counseling Women. Grand Rapids: Bker Books.
Kopala, M., & Keitel, M. A. (2003). The Quick Reference Guide to Counseling Women. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Scheffler, T. S., & Naus, P. J. (1999). The relationship between fatherly affirmation and a woman’s self-esteem, fear of ntimacy, comfort with womanhood and comfort with sexuality. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 8(1), 39-45.
Hinkley (2015) describes self-esteem as the affective aspect of a woman’s self regard. Self-esteem is closely related to self-concept, which is the cognitive aspect of a woman’s self regard. Practically speaking, a woman’s self-esteem level serves as a gauge for how she views herself. Self-esteem is largely shaped during a woman’s childhood and adolescence (Clinton & Langberg, 2011; Tryon & Winograd, 2003). The outcome to healthy development is a woman who is content with herself across various social roles (Tryon & Winograd). Multiple factors and life experiences affect the development of an individual’s self esteem. Parental and early caregiver relationships are particularly influential.
Attachment theory posits that an individual’s self-concept is primarily based on the level of nurturance and responsiveness of his/her childhood caregiver (DeHart, Pelham, & Tennen, 2006). In a broader sense, self-esteem is generated in response to a person’s social exchanges with significant others throughout a lifetime. Generally, family members provide our earliest and most significant connections to the social world. While studying the affect of perceived fatherly regard and women’s self-esteem, Scheffler and Naus (1999) found evidence supporting the impact of caregiver relationships on self-esteem development. Perceived unconditional positive regard, support, and warmth from a woman’s father was significantly correlated to higher self-esteem (Scheffler & Naus). Research on parenting styles provides additional support to these claims. An authoritative parenting style provides children with positive regard, love, support, and opportunities for autonomy. Conversely, an authoritarian parenting style utilizes criticism, threats, and conditional regard to control children. Use of an authoritarian parenting style is linked to negative self-concept (Dehart et al., 2006).
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