Every now and then a mum will receive feedback that they have done something right!
One of these moments came for me when my daughter was in high school. She showed me one of her essays and in this paragraph I found confirmation of much that I had hoped for and anticipated as a parent. She had written:
Expectation can be turned to advantage. As a child I was brought up to know that teenagers didn’t need to turn out badly – even though society seems to expect that they will and the media portrayal of teenagers is almost exclusively negative. This provided me with a desire to turn out well and disprove the stereotype – and I hope I have achieved that.
I was pleased and thankful to see her express this in her own words. Over many years I had endeavoured to instil in my child the notion that she has the power to choose how she behaves, and that she has the power to choose to behave responsibly even in spite of the naysayers.
My daughter’s essay continued:
Despite all the media focus on ‘rebellious teenagers’, it is unfair to expect and label all teenagers to be ‘social problems’. Children do not start life with nefarious plans to rebel and injure their parents but society implies that they should and some, obediently, do. If society would understand that the developing minds of children are easily influenced, it might make an effort to reinforce positive expectations. The media may not change but parents should know that their expectations can have an impact on how their teenagers turn out.
Reinforcing the positives and affirming the power to choose can begin at an early age.
My daughter was still quite young when, one day, she asked me this question: “Mum, what are teenagers and why are they so bad?” That was my cue to provide an alternative view to the one she had picked up from the media.
When your child is grown up they will retain only a few memories from their preschool years. But those childhood experiences will shape them and contribute significantly to producing the adult they will grow up to be. Childhood is a very precious time for being proactive about creating the adult you hope your child will become, even during those pre-school years which the children won’t remember and which are so busy for the parents. It is worth being intentional about taking advantage of the opportunities. Talk to your young children about your values in life, why those things are important to you and your hopes and expectations for them and their futures.
Do not have a limiting view of the mind of a child. There is a lot going on in there! I encourage you all to feed your child’s mind with encouragement and positive expectations. Repeatedly. Expect the best from them – and let them know that you do. Don’t expect to see results immediately – but do enjoy them when the time comes.