Well this is just a little reminder for us all that we parents play a central role in creating the manner in which our children see themselves and the world for their entire lives. We give them the framework for understanding all that follows in their lives, and we do so at an age when they are unconsciously absorbing everything that happens to them without thought of or even the ability to shield themselves. So, in essence (and to crudely misuse a metaphor), we are the programmers of our children’s hard drives.
They come wired for certain tendencies, and they develop the capacity to perform innumerable actions, but we create the code that they will run until they are old enough or wise enough to rewrite the portions they dislike (usually well into their adulthood). And until or unless they are able to reprogram themselves, they will be “mindlessly” running the programs we put in today. So it makes sense for us to be conscious and conscientious about what we’re putting in there, right?
Look at it this way, do we really want to program our kids with things like:
- “You’re so silly!” “…goofy” or “…dorky”
- Or with, “You’re not being niiice…”, “Don’t be naauughty…”, or “Poorsport!”
- Or with, “You’re so fussy”, “You’re so sensitive”, or “You’re always ill.”
- Or with, “Why are you being so bossy?”, “Why won’t you do as I tell you?” or “When are you gonna learn?!”
- Or with, “Grumpy!”, “Messy!”, “Sleepyhead!”, or “Butterfingers.”
- Or with “You can’t do that”, “It’ll never work”, or “Go ahead and waste your time.”
Taken together like this, and in the context of thinking of ourselves as being our kids’ programmers, it’s easy to see that we are more involved in framing our children’s understanding about themselves than we might otherwise be conscious of doing. In everyday life, on the other hand, it’s just as easy (if not easier) to forget the larger picture and react in the moment either with a reflex comment programmed into us by our own parents, or with “a joke”, or (out of desperation or frustration) with a coercive jab designed to get the kid to comply with our will. When we aren’t paying close attention to what we are programming into our kids, then we are most likely passing on the programming that we got as kids and that we haven’t yet attempted to or been successful in reprogramming.
It takes some conscientious self-monitoring to catch our programming before it virally moves on to our kids’ main frames. But if we want to afford them the best possible opportunities to live with a healthy view of themselves, and a positive framework for understanding the world, then we would do well to be that conscientious, and that intentional. It takes a little while to reprogram our own auto-responses, but I think we can all agree, it’s well worth the effort.
Be well, my fellow codecreators.
For more on this subject, look here.