Your Children Watch You. What Are They Learning?

Children watch. From the moment they are born, they watch...and, they are watching you. 

Right from birth, your children watch. They are being imprinted with all that they take in through their senses, through what they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. They have no language but they hear the tone of your voice. They can certainly tell the difference between loving and impatient care. They can easily sense calm, and equally easily, danger. What are your children picking up from you most of the time?

When I used to teach parenting classes--a long, long time ago when the earth was born--I would have some fun telling the classes of parents:

"I hope you enjoyed the few minutes (or moments...lol) around conception."

They would look a little surprised at that, and often giggle uncomfortably, or look at each other knowingly. Then, I would add:

"Because, at that moment, you both undertook the responsibility to teach your child how to be a man, how to be a woman, and how to be a couple. They will learn by watching. And, there is other good news: children often fail to do what we tell them, but they seldom fail to do what we do."

A very quiet room usually resulted. That's a very serious undertaking, and it had not really occurred to any of them until that moment.

And, it's true.

Your children are watching you....and, especially long after they have language and the ability to communicate both respectfully and disrespectfully!

My clients are the partners, exes, and adult children of chronically difficult people. I coined the term "Hijackals™" for those difficult people who seem to make a life work of relentless scavenging your relationship with them for power, status, and control. If you'd had a parent like that, you have a lot of work to do to have great relationships and a healthy self-image. If you have or had a partner like that, that's a whole other barrel of work!

I know this from birth, so I'm not speaking about it from some theoretical place. My mother was a Hijackal. In fact, so much so, that in my adult life it took my childhood friends years to admit that they were terrified of her. Imagine how I felt, living with her! And, I am an only child. (That's at least a blessing for all her unborn children!)

So, I know what it feels like from the inside out...and, all that I had to do to undo the damage she did. Oh, yes, and my father? He was so passive-aggressive that he finally chose a job where he was away from her at least six months of the year. Great! He left me with her. Prime Hijackal bait!

When I think of all that I learned as a child about how life and what it looked like, and all that I had to unlearn if I wanted to be healthy, it is horrendous. And, that's aside from the abuse that also went along with it. When I talk about Hijackals, childhoods, parental examples, and daily life, I've been there, have the scars, the t-shirt, and the very ugly videos. I've done the work and created ways to help you. You are not alone.

What  have you shown your children--right from the moment they drew breath? What have they heard, seen, and sensed about themselves and others? All that is how they decide on their self-worth and how to be in relationships. It's a HUGE responsibility.

Fortunately, you can start right now to create a different model. You can give yourself the gifts of compassion, understanding and change.  I've created a program to walk through that journey with you. No, it's not intensive therapy.  It's about choosing again, and creating a happier, healthier relationship with yourself.  Your children are still watching you.

I'm Dr. Rhoberta Shaler. Join me for a webinar, a Save Your Sanity seminar, or a free half-hour consultation to move towards the happy, healthy life and relationships you most want.  ForRelationshipHelp.com 

2 thoughts on “Your Children Watch You. What Are They Learning?

  1. Aga Smies, musician/educator/mediator

    A very enjoyable article. Of course, often the truth hurts. I always tell my clients that how they behave determines how their children turn out.

    • Rhoberta Shaler, PhD Post author

      Thanks, Aga. I believe you are right. Children often fail to do what we tell them, but they seldom fail to do what we do.

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