I read in a psychology book once that happy, stable people – people confident in who they are – have a happy first memory. Interesting to find that the first memory was common in so many of them – it was usually when they were doing a happy activity and most of them had height involved – standing on a table, learning to walk, toddling about with their parents – some kind of height-related memory.
For today’s Bloganuary prompt, I’ve already addressed my first memory in past blogs – the memory of standing outside my parent’s door and hearing them discuss giving me away.
I was only 5 years old.
It broke my heart and cemented in my character, my values and my core beliefs that I was worthless. A commodity to be swapped and changed by my parents of all people.
I’ll discuss instead the effect of what our parents say to us.
I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of parents who abuse their children which enforces the idea that the poor child involved isn’t worth protecting or cherishing. Parents who will put their children down or put an immense amount of pressure on them to be the tennis star/the school dux/the best cheerleader/the football star etc inevitably change their children because of that expectation to be perfect. It’s a lot. It’s especially heavy when you think of a child trying to carry the weight of their parent’s hopes and dreams.
What parents say to their children – or in my case about them but within earshot – it’s powerful.
Our parent’s voices are the first ones we hear, so they set the foundation for how we’ll think about ourselves and treat ourselves.
Parents who speak negatively to their children, who put them down or degrade/dismiss them…they pave the way for insecure and unsettled children. Sometimes these children grow up to be destructive teens and damaged adults.
What gives me hope is that the reverse is true, too.
Parents who believe in their children, compliment them, celebrate them, uplift and encourage them – those parents are creating strong foundations for their children to grow up in a healthy, happy way. Children who are loved feel safe enough to speak up, to take risks, to step out of their comfort zones and grow…and I think these children are the ones who change the world for the better.
If you’re a parent, give your kid a compliment…because in 20 year’s time, they’ll still remember that and smile when they see themselves in the mirror.
Words have power. Especially on little kids.