We set our kids up for life.
Mira’s seventh birthday sleep-over brought together four little girls between the ages of 6 and 7. They’ve known each other since Kindy, (from around three years old). All from privileged middle-class families.
Derek and I were left with a poignant reminder of the massive impact we have on our children’s responses, personalities and patterning. We emerged more passionate than ever to strive to be aware, awake and taking full responsibility for our language, behaviour and choices.
Our concern, sadness and compassion was raised by survival strategies that two of the girls have already formed.
One child arrived showing the signs of obvious neglect. Her unwashed hair had to be treated for head-lice. She settled for the night in a pull-up nappy, on a yoga mat because she still wets the bed. In the morning, the other children were vocal about the smell. She didn’t seem to know how to shower herself. A dramatic, tearful tantrum punctuated her departure. Another of the girls – seven years old – has severe issues around food, feigned throwing up and separated herself from the group, skulking off to be on her own.
These beautiful little girls have developed winning formulae to get attention, significance, connection and ultimately to have the following fundamental needs met:
• to belong
• to be loved
• to feel good enough
We see it as our privilege to be and do whatever we can to raise our daughter respectfully with love, care and the attention she deserves. She is the most important creation in our world. The future is hers.
There was one other family, (of the four that shared their daughters) with similar values – and it showed. The levels of confidence, generosity, resourcefulness and independence of one of the other girls sang of the support, care and attention she consistently receives from her mum and dad.
Seven is a big one. Up until the age of seven our critical faculty hasn’t developed and we’re like sponges. We soak up everything around us and accept what we absorb as true, particularly when it comes from our parents. It’s during these early years, values are shaped and our neural pathways are set to play the tunes to which we’ll dance for the rest of our lives, unless we choose to change this deep patterning.
The innocently accepted beliefs, confusion and bewilderment experienced in early childhood can lead to the early formation of challenges, trauma and hugely unresourceful strategies for seeking attention and to get our needs met.
I have to believe that parents want the very best for their children. It is true that unless we’re taking steps to transform, we’re driving our lives from our own child-self aged seven or younger. That’s a sobering thought. Awesome that positive transformation can happen in a heart-beat.
What’s the first step? To front up to our winning formulae as parents and discover resourceful ways of meeting our own needs to belong, be loved and feel good enough so that we can be there fully for our kids. It’s time to get over ourselves: It’s our kids that count, isn’t it?