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American parents, as a rule, can be put in two extreme classes, those who render the children insufferably conceited and unbearable by overestimating their abilities and overpraising their achievements, and those who render them morbid and self-depreciating by a lack of wholesome praise.

It is rare indeed, when we find parents wise and sensible enough to strengthen the best that is in their children by discreet praise, and at the same time to control the undesirable qualities by judicious and kind criticism.

I heard a grandmother not long ago telling callers in the presence of a small boy what a naughty, bad child he was, and how impossible it seemed to make him mind. Wretched seed to sow in the little mind, and the harvest is sure to be sorrow.

I have heard parents and older children, expatiate on the one stupid trait and the one plain feature of a bright and handsome child, intending to keep it from forming too good an opinion of itself.

To all young people I would say, cultivate a belief in yourself. Base it on self-respect and confidence in God's love for his own handiwork. Say to yourself, "I will be what I will to be." Not because your human will is all-powerful, but because the Divine will is back of you. Analyze your own abilities and find what you are best fitted to do.

Then get about the task of doing your chosen work to the very best of your ability, and do not for an instant doubt your own capabilities. Perhaps they may be dwarfed and enfeebled by years of morbid thought; but if you persist in a self-respecting and self-reliant and God-trusting course of thinking your powers will increase and your capabilities strengthen.

It is no easy matter to overcome a habit of self-depreciation.

It is like straightening out a limb which has been twisted by a false attitude or correcting a habit of sitting round-shouldered.

It requires a steady and persistent effort. When the depressing and doubtful thoughts come drive them away like malaria-breeding insects. Say, "This is not complimentary to my Maker. I am His work. I must be worthy of my own respect and of that of others. I must and will succeed."

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Ella Wheeler Wilcox

  • Author and poet
  • Born November 5th, 1850 in Johnstown, Wisconsin and died October 30th, 1919
  • Famous line in poetry: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone."

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