Parents confusing love and praise in the social network

Sunday, March 15th, 2015


2015 February monthly Round Up

A recent MSN report featured a newly released study about how parents who tell their children that they are more special than other children demonstrate narcissistic tendencies, whereas children whose parents expressed how much they are loved by the parent developed high self-esteem.

I understand narcissism to be an anti-social mindset that is characterized by excessive love or desire for self that puts oneself in the center of the universe to be honored and admired. And this report interests me because with the advent of the internet and mobile connectivity, our parenting culture at large has yet to catch up with how hyper-connectivity is inspiring and conditioning us into experiences and mindsets that are not in character with the civility of trustworthy citizens (regard for others as self). In this regard, we have witnessed through experience and the headlines that the anti-social conduct of our children’s on-line communities is wanton and has produced a bully culture that is so extremely vicious and cruel that it can feel inescapable and un-survivable.

And still we know there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes1:9)

In 2009, parenting experts Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman referred to this phenomenon of parenting self-love gone awry in their book, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children (2009), wherein they coined the phrase “the inverse power of praise”. They too found that if we are not prudent and specific about praise, it will not result in greater confidence and healthy self-esteem – rather it can give the child an over-inflated or defeated ego (when your praise does not line up with their reality), thus adversely impacting their sense of fulfillment in their endeavors. For this reason, John Rosemond in his book, Parenting by The Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child (2007), posits that the pursuit of self-esteem as an objective is more like narcissism (wherein you love yourself as a god), arguing that “humility governs self-confidence and that without humility, self confidence is potentially hazardous to self and others.” (p.143)

The bottom line is that when we parents over value our own children over our neighbor’s child, we are doing all the children a huge disservice. What our children need in order to develop a healthy measure of confidence and respect for others is the undivided attention from parents who praise the trustworthy character of their child (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).


2015 February Monthly Round Up

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Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner

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To learn more about creating a family culture characterized by open communication and individual resilience, go to: Fresh Start.


Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.