What are you teaching your children by example? .... by Lani Neilson
“Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not of you, You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own,…You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, For life moves forward, not backward, You are the bows from which your children, as living arrows, are sent forth.…….. Kahil Gibran-The Prophet
All children come into this world as pure beings of unlimited possibility, love and potential…. so how do they grow up to become anxious, sad, lost and confused, empty, addicted, physical/emotional and sexual abusers and in general adults that are unhappy with themselves and the quality of their lives?
Children are born innocent, good and full of magic and they know it themselves only by reflection from others around them and by the way they are treated. They begin to learn and internalise messages about themselves through the mirroring eyes of their parents and it is within their eyes that children will see and learn to recognise themselves for the very first time. Our parenting form’s children’s core beliefs about themselves. These beliefs, along with their experiences of growing up within their family environment, will become the internal map and emotional compass that they will use to guide and shape every decision they will make. Decisions about who they are as a person, whether or not they are enough and loveable just as they are, what the measuring stick is that determines their success, self worth and value and whether they feel as if they belong in this world. Because these decisions are powerfully motivated by their own view of themselves, they will only create destinies that they “believe are possible and appropriate” for themselves, and unfortunately what they believe is possible, is often very far away from what their true and authentic potential.
As parents we are then required to ask ourselves these questions...
Q: What did I learn from my parents about life, love and the world?...
Q: Have I explored this for myself to find my own authentic truth?” ….and
Q: What am I now teaching my child/ children by example?”.....
Are we teaching our children the essential life skills and mirroring for them qualities that will provide them with the internal resources that allows them to grow and flourish into the very best person they can be?”…And not only that, are they evolving into the very one they came here to be? Or are they simply being moulded and shaped into who we want them to be, or who society expects them to be.
In our families we learn the rules and life skills that teach us aboutrelationships, intimacy, communication, money, conflict resolution, work ethic, sexuality, socialising, success, religion, expressing emotions, rules are about’ being a man/ a woman’, how to cope with stressful situations, self worth, self esteem, and the ‘rules’ that determine whether you are loveable and acceptable. That’s all behaviour actually is, you learn to “be” a certain way to “have “ what you want. A child may learn to “be” good, smart, rebellious, sick, invisible… and many other forms of behaviour in order to “have” what they need and want - their parents love, time, attention, approval and acceptance. Unfortunately what children also learn is that…”I am most loved when I am not being myself”.
Accumulating scientific, medical and psychological research shows that this type of conditioning, is how children begin to be set up for things like addictions, eating disorders, mental illness, insecurities, the need to be in control, and many other compulsive and co-dependent behaviours. As we grow into adults we continue to play out the same behaviours that were once part of how we creatively adjusted to our childhood environments, in order to survive and receive the love, time and attention we wanted. These same behaviours though, may now be interfering with our ability to effectively function, be happy, feel fulfilled, achieve our dreams, and tap into our potential.
It’s important as parents to recognise and acknowledge within ourselves the behaviours, attitudes and expectations we have, that may be effecting our ability to role model for our children qualities such as; emotional honesty, free expression of thoughts /affection/sexuality, realizing dreams, effective problem solving, relationships where both parents are personally empowered and able to meet their own and each others needs, modeling authenticity, respect and the capacity to laugh, play and have fun.
We ourselves learnt from our own parents the rules of life by which we are now living, Are these the same rules that we want our own children to live by?... and in turn, go on to teach their children?
The future of our planet depends on our children’s conceptions of themselves, and that view of themselves, and their ability to be all that they can be, is shaped by our us. So please take a moment and ask yourself the question? “What am I teaching my precious child by example?”..
By Lani Neilson
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