Not only do children often look like their parents, they often end up being like their parents. We can literally view our children as hand mirrors that reflect not only the messages and cues they receive from us but also, our thoughts and actions.
If we are still wounded (incomplete or hurt) from our childhood, we will wound our child, usually without being conscious of it. If we were not accepted by our parents for who we are, we, in turn, might not accept or value our child for who they are. If we are worried about being separated from our child, bedtime might be a nightly battleground for us or our child might be worried about starting school and leaving us. If we are frequently angry, we might teach our child to be angry. If we have an exaggerated sense of responsibility for our child and allow our mind to work overtime, our child might be busy, restless or unable to fall asleep quickly or sleep soundly. Unfortunately, whatever we have not dealt with from our past, we pass onto our children.
Whatever character trait we don’t like in our child usually mirrors something we don’t like in ourselves. Each time a mother sees her daughter lazing about the house, she finds herself getting really angry. Telling her daughter that she is lazy is not going to incite a work ethic in her; in fact it will accomplish the exact opposite and the daughter will only resent her mother for not seeing the beauty inside her. When the mother delves into her deeper feelings about this, she realizes that she has a tendency to be lazy and has set this example for her daughter. The mother has a choice as to whether she accepts her laziness and thereby accepts that aspect of herself or whether she takes steps to change that aspect of herself so that her daughter doesn’t adopt this trait for life. There are positive aspects of each seemingly negative trait. The mother may come to the realization that her laziness is a good thing because relaxing in our society is under-rated! As long as we are accomplishing things at other times of the day, being lazy for a few hours a day can be just what the body and mind require. When we become less critical of ourselves, we become more supportive of our children. But if this mother feels that her laziness is too much for her liking, she may decide to start living her life in a way in which she could never be described as lazy and will get one step closer to becoming the energetic, goal-achieving person she wants to become.
One of the biggest tasks in parenting is seeing things from a perspective that does not necessarily come easily to us. If we can look at each challenge with our child as an opportunity to understand ourselves more than ever before and as potential for further growth, this helps us ease up on our children and prevents us from seeing things as “wrong.” In fact, this is how we convert our “problem child” into our teacher!
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