The ancient writer—and father—Plutarch tells us of a parenting strategy he discovered in the works of Plato. “Young people must be taught from childhood,” he said, “that it is not right to wear gold on their bodies or to possess it, since they have their own personal gold intermixed into their soul, hinting (I think) at the virtue that is part of human nature and received at birth.”
It’s a beautiful idea: They don’t need to wear precious metals…because they are made of something much more precious. Even more beautiful is how timeless that observation is. Plato said it over 2000 years ago…and Mr. Rogers ended every one of his programs with something very similar. “You’ve made this day a special day by just being you,” he would say. “There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”
We must, as parents, teach our children where their value really lies. It’s not in accomplishments. It’s not in what they earn or how they look. It’s not to be found in anything external at all. It’s inherent. There is no one on the planet with their same combination of DNA and experiences and circumstances. That’s what makes them special—what makes them rarer than any of the rarest jewels and metals.
That’s why we love them. That’s why they should love and value themselves.