Something I saw from a friend,
We teach our littles to be strong, we teach them to be brave, we teach them to get up when they fall and never give up on something they want. But there is a moment, it’s coming for all of us, where they walk confidently away from you. They will walk bravely forward and they won’t look back to you for reassurance.Author Undisclosed
And, oh, we do! Even when we think they aren’t watching us, they are observing all the little details. They are mimicking us, trying to figure out what they are supposed to do by doing what we do. And they learn from us. But, momma or papa, please remember this,
We teach them to love, but we also teach them anger, fear, and hate.
Children are not born hateful, prejudiced, or broken. I believe they want to love, they want to think the best of those who take care of them. But they all too quickly learn to be petty, angry, and hurtful…and they grow up to pass those traits to their own children.
When we scream at them, they learn to respond in anger. When we scream at our partners, they learn that this is acceptable. When we punish them, they learn to expect punishments for making mistakes.
They won’t always say something. They won’t often say anything. But they remember everything. And, as time passes, they’ll say less and less, and we’ll say, “Oh, what a bad child! There’s nothing we could have done.” Maybe that’s even true.
And it’s not only our words to which they listen. “Mom says I’m a failure.” “She wouldn’t say that.” “No, but I heard it in her tone.” And that’s what they remember. The tone. The message conveyed, more than the message spoken. “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” is only too true for children.
We think they are not listening, sometimes, but they are always listening. To our worst, as well as our best.
Please, do not berate yourself, but rather be aware.
What you say, what you do? It matters. Always. There is never a moment, for better or worse, when your child does not look up to you. Does not listen to you and follow you.
I believe our first duty, as parents, is not to worry if we’ve made them a healthy, color coordinated Pinterest meal every night (yes, do your best, of course, but hey, a pizza night once a week will kill nobody!), but to strive to model the behavior we want them to have for themselves. Because we will fail at times, we will mess up. But the more we try, the more they will learn to try as well.
Oh, sometimes they will learn from others, too! Or from themselves. We do not have absolute influence over our children. But…
…we are one of the earliest and most consistent influences (even more than at school or other community environments that are often constantly changing). I cannot tell you how often one of my munchkins has parroted something I’ve said (sometimes directly after I said it!). They do not always agree with me, for sure. But they do listen. It’s flattering, but it’s also a responsibility.
As someone coming from kinky, poly, queer communities, I am pleased at how much better these communities can be than the ones I’ve been used to. Better ideas surrounding consent, love, healthy interactions, etc. Perfect? Hardly. But at least trying. Shouldn’t we try to cultivate those ideas outside of kinky play into the rest of our life, too? Make things better for more than our play partners? How about if we taught healthy relationship concepts regarding our loved ones, our family, and, especially, our children?
So, ask yourself, please. What are they hearing? What are they seeing? The good, the bad, and the ugly, I’m sure. What are you showing them? Because one day they will grow up to be “just like you.” Ask yourself,