It’s no secret that parents and caregivers have a great influence on their children from day one of life, but exactly how large is their impact? It has been said that as one ages, they slowly become a reflection of their mother or father, meaning one embodies their ideals, practices, beliefs, and even speech pattern and social skills. Now is it true that all children grow up to be exactly like those who raised them? Highly unlikely, but on a large scale, many adults are made up of components of their parents, a combination of their mannerisms and speech, or how one sees and interrupts the society they live in. In almost all cases, there is no getting around a certain bit of your parents voices carrying over into your adult life.
So why does this happen? Parents become a child’s very first role models, and because of that their actions are often replicated. It is not only about what parents do, but also how they do it, as a child will take both in. In a way, the lessons and actions displayed by a child’s caregivers become building blocks for their future character and interpretation of their world. “We internalize family culture with our observations and our learning, and what we learn in these early years takes on an inflexible character about which we have little choice”. (Stanley J. Gross, Ed.D.) The process in which one picks up mannerisms from their parents can happen so quickly, and be undetectable until much later in life. With that being said, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be aware of what lessons one is teaching their children. As a child, one has little choice about which characteristics we pick up, and how much influence it will have on who we become.
Unfortunately, some parents are not great role models, and negative traits can quickly develop in a child. For example, parents who use violence as a means of control, were probably raised on the same grounds, and more than likely, their child will grow up to raise their children the same. One study conducted by the University of Washington and the University of Indiana found that children who witness more violence and aggression at home, were much more likely to bully other children. (Joel Schwarz, 2006, University of Washington) Children idolize their parents, and want to be just like them, which in many cases (such as the bullying) it results in mimicry. This can be said for numerous situations. Children who observe their parents yelling when problems arise, will probably take a very similar approach to conflict in their future. One study found that the majority of children who are raised by anxious parents or in high stress homes also grow up to be anxious adults (Sonali Kohli May 12, 2015). What is shown to a child in the earliest development stages is what they will perceive their world to be. While there are always exceptions, this tends to be the major pattern. It can be hard to see in some cases, the passing of similar traits from caregiver to offspring, but in time, they often surface. A majority of the time people are actually shocked to see how much they’ve become their parents. Mostly, the shock is due to the fact that a lot of our earliest learning is stored deep in the subconscious, only to become apparent later in life when certain situation arise, like having children of our own. “The root of the subconscious is essentially a combination of your parents minds” (Erupting Mind, April 2016) It happens below the everyday functions of the mind.
In conclusion, it’s very important to be aware what our children see, and the ways we teach them to interact with their world. The most important developmental years of an individuals life is spent watching and learning. “What kids see and believe, they become.” (Karen Stephens, 2007)
Sonali Kohli May 12, 2015, Study: Kids who grow up with anxious parents take on their anxietyhttps://qz.com/403299/study-kids-who-grow-up-with-anxious-parents-take-on-their-anxiety/
Stanley J. Gross, Ed.D., John M. Grohol, Psy.D Apr 2016 http://psychcentral.com/library/id162.html
Joel Schwarz, 2006, University of Washington http://www.washington.edu/news/2006/09/12/violence-in-the-home-leads-to-higher-rates-of-childhood-bullying/