Resources for self-worth and bullying

(Martin Pitts) #1

I have a friend who’s daughter,age 9, is being bullied at school about multiple things. Do any of you have recommended resources on a book that speaks to children to help them realize they have self worth?

I’ve talked with her mother about it, and given some advice, but we both agree that her daughter is going to have to reach the conclusion that she has worth on her own. Not that this means we stop encouraging her or supporting that belief, but she’s just not believing what we tell her. The daughter is an avid reader, so we’re hoping that there’s a book that she could read that would help her believe.

(Carson Weitnauer) #2

Hi Martin,

I have had considerable success talking directly with the teachers and school leadership about similar issues. When they hear specific details, they are usually quite alarmed and willing to take action. I suppose it depends on the local context and cultural environment, but it seems to me that there is increasingly less tolerance for bullying in the school context. A kind, respectful persistence in addressing this with those who have responsibility for the school may prod them into action.

I also think that it helps for a young person to have strong, supportive relationships with peers. Perhaps there are alternate communities in church, sports, hobbies, or the neighborhood where she can find true friends? This relational buffer provides encouragement even if the school community is not supportive.

I am curious to hear what other resources, and specifically, books might be recommended by other Connect members!

(Brian Weeks) #3

Hi Martin, that’s compassionate of you to care for your friend and her daughter enough to seek help for them regarding the pain we as human beings can inflict on each other with our words. With respect to the idea of self worth, if I may, I’d like to submit a another perspective; one that shifts the ground of value from within us to within God, which is really good news.

If we consider that, before God breathed life into us, we were literally dust/dirt, and that in him we live and move and have our being, what does this tell us about our value? This seems to tell us we do not have intrinsic value. But rather, our value is indeed objective, but extrinsic, dependent on, and derived from God, and that only God has intrinsic value and self-worth.

I’d encourage you to help your friend see what God, who alone gives her daughter value, has to say about her daughter, and about himself with respect to her in light of the gospel. And the reason why it’s good news that our worth is dependent on and derived from God alone is because, if we really do believe that our value comes from God alone, then what anyone, including we ourselves, says about our worth doesn’t have authority, but only what God says about us. And because of the gospel, and because God is trustworthy, his adopted sons and daughters can fully rest and delight in what he says about who they are in Christ.

Martin, is your friend or her daughter a Christian?

(Martin Pitts) #4

That’s an interesting way to explain it. I’ve always said we have intrinsic worth because we are made in the image of God and through that we have value, which is what you’re describing as extrinsic worth.

I’ve encouraged them to look at God’s Word, and used Scripture to solidify that God’s view of her and the value that He places on her is all that matters. The mother claims she’s a Christian, and I know I’ve heard her daughter mention before that she, “talks to God all the time,” but I’ve not seen the evidence in the life of the mother. I’ve also presented the gospel to the daughter before, and she acts as though it’s not new news to her but I’ve also not gotten a clear cut answer from her about her faith. For the sake of discussion I’m going to say no they’re not, and if I’m wrong then they’re not living in that close relationship to God.

(Brian Weeks) #5

Yeah, I think we both agree that our value is objective, and that’s important to affirm. If our value was intrinsic to us, though, then that means we wouldn’t need anything outside of ourselves in order to have value. In other words, we wouldn’t even need God to have value. But, we know that we do need God to have value. And, with him as the ground of our value, he gets the glory and he establishes our value, your friend’s daughter’s value, as rock solid and undeniably objective.

It sounds like you’re really trying to help them both see the soul-satisfying value of God in Christ through the gospel and I’d say keep that up. Speaking as someone who grew up on the receiving end of this sort of thing, it can be a very tough thing to help someone overcome placing more value on what others say about them than on what God says about them. As you know, there is probably also a lot of influence on her coming from her mom and where her treasure is. And, regardless of what their parents are saying, children at that age are beginning to pick up on where their parents’ hearts really are based on how they live their lives. So, there are a lot of things at play here. But you never know when God is going to open their eyes to the truth and beauty of the all-sufficiency of Christ. Keep loving them, keep praying for them.

And, interestingly enough, as I was writing this, this song just came to mind. The new Hillsong song titled Who You Say I Am is really good with theologically sound lyrics. I like it, maybe you or they will too!

As far as resources go, while this one is more for your friend than her daughter, Paul Tripp’s latest book titled Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family is outstanding, no exaggeration. My copy is all marked up and one that I refer back to as I go down this road of parenting. This book truly revolutionized the way I looked at parenting. Since, I assume, her mom is still a meaningful influence in her life, perhaps a resource for her might not hurt?

(Martin Pitts) #6

Yeah I see how the wording is essential in that. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind in the future!

Thank you for your help and insight Brian! I’ll keep loving them and praying for them that they would be receptive to the gospel and God’s truth. I’ll also share that song and that book with her, and see if it helps them. I’ll probably pick up a copy of that book for myself as well so it can help me be a better parent, and maybe give me and her some talking points and open up more opportunities to continue sharing the gospel with them.

(Carson Weitnauer) #7

Hi Martin,

I think one of the primary ways that God provides for us to understand his truth, as Brian has so beautifully shared it, is through our relationships and participation in the local church.

It is not that our value comes from other people, but at the same time, when we experience our brothers and sisters in Christ loving us, valuing us, and seeing the good that God put into our lives, that is an important way that we are able to receive and experience these truths as a reality in our lives.

Similarly, I think the kind way in which you are serving your friend and her daughter is an invaluable aspect of how you are communicating the truth of what God says about their value.