Valerie Williams – Ministry Assistant

At last year’s Global Leadership Summit, we all had the privilege of hearing from a woman who is a pioneer in her field of study– which happens to be shame.

Dr. Brene Brown said herself on stage at the summit, this was not something she sought to study but as her research began to progress there was an undeniable trend that plagued many people all over the world in secret. She discovered the quote in this picture, during her research, that personally hit a chord with her and it is what caused her to write Daring Greatly. She has a couple TED Talks that I would highly recommend you watch if you have a few moments to spare:

The Power of Vulnerablity – June 2010 or Listening to Shame – March 2012

I was so moved and inspired by Dr. Brown at the Summit that when my husband and I agreed we could each buy one book from one of the speakers, I snatched hers up (he chose Bob Goff’s Love Does, which I would also highly recommend you read) and I was not disappointed. The way she spoke and presented herself on stage is exactly the same way she writes: witty, sarcastic, vulnerable, real. I won’t lie to you, I wept almost every time I picked up the book.

It was as if she was speaking directly to me and reaching into my own soul and ferreting out my pain and shame I had wrapped myself in. I don’t know if it was the realization that I was not alone or someone understood me or if it was bringing up so much that I tried to hide, even from myself, but her words touched me deeply.

I won’t spoil the book for you, I really want you to read it, but I will tell you something I learned from it: shame development starts at a very young age– and it starts with our parents. I’d like to clarify that I love my parents and I always knew that they loved me too (and always will). My family is really close and I frequently enjoyed hanging out with my family instead of my friends growing up BUT…

There were always expectations to strive for that were just out of my reach or, if I did reach them, anytime I slipped up I fell into a downward spiral of shame and despair. When Dr. Brown asked a group of eighth graders “What might it look like to not belong at home (in your family).” these are the responses she got:

  • Not living up to your parents’ expectations
  • Not being as cool or popular as your parents want you to be
  • Not being as smart as your parents
  • Not being good at the same things your parents were good at
  • Your parents being embarrassed because you don’t have enough friends or you’re not an athlete or a cheerleader
  • Your parents not liking who you are and what you like to do
  • When your parents don’t pay attention to your life

I am not yet a parent, but I can tell you I can resonate with that, both as a child and as a life group leader of currently eighth grade girls. I can tell my girls all day long about how awesome I think they are, I can come to their special events, and support their decisions to try new things, but when they scan the crowd, in the end, they want to see their parents there smiling and cheering them on.

“If we want to cultivate worthiness in our children, we need to make sure they know they belong and that their belonging is UNCONDITIONAL.” – Dr. Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, pg 233

Your kids need you, their parents, to be involved in their lives and facilitating a sense of belonging. If it is difficult for you because you struggle with the same needs (hey, we all do) then get down with them on their level, get in the dirt, and wrestle with your problems together and show empathy. That was always something my mom was very good at: getting down and empathizing with me. We struggled in other areas, but the fact that I knew (and still know) that I could turn to my mom and tell her about things upsetting me and she would listen and sit with me in my pain, not trying to fix it, meant the world to me.

If you are struggling with an unruly teen right now, try getting in the dirt with them and listen to the pain they are experiencing, not saying anything unless asked, and hug them as tightly as you can. I can promise you they will be receptive to it as long as you are genuine and vulnerable with them back.

Daring Greatly

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