as parents, our children are mirrors. they do reflect what we do more than what we say, that is true. and it has been said that most of our beliefs are in place by the time we are 8 years old. 8 years old. our 'programs', if you will, are up and running, including our world view, the way we treat other people, and many things of which i'm not certain, but i'm pretty sure there's more. that should make us pretty nervous if our kids are under 8 and very observant if they're older. we should take care of what our children see and hear. we should teach them the values we want them to have. they are like clay that hasn't hardened, cement we can put our handprints in, a blank slate we get to write on. we too often delegate this to others. i'm not talking about schools, because most of the time before 8 is gone before kindergarten starts, so even though some can make homeschooling work, not everyone can, and public school won't ruin your children any more than homeschooling or christian school will fix them. you are the most important teacher your child has, even if he spends a good portion of his day at school. your influence will reach through that of the teacher and the principal and the friends. your attitude toward others, how you treat them, what you say about them when they are there and when they are not, how your actions look when people are watching line up with those when you're alone, all these things will show up in 'the mirror'. your mirror.
do you know those microphones that seem to have a delay between what is said and when you hear it? or those keyboards that have you typing for several characters before you can view what you've written? multiply that delay by a lot. what you do today with your kids may not show up for a long time. a very long time. the bible says 'train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows old he will not depart from it.' i had trouble with that verse in proverbs for a long time. i know plenty of people who are good people whose kids have turned out not so good. and i know the opposite occurs as well. but someone clarified it for me - it doesn't necessarily mean that they won't depart from it but it also means it won't depart from them. hence the discussion about programs that are running. and mirrors. mirrors with delay. so thinking about our kids as mirrors should sober us and make us consider our actions. but there is a danger in this mirror philosophy. some people, many i would say, see these mirrors as something different.
when we treat our kids like mirrors that are reflecting back on us, we make a mistake. we can't let this occur. by doing this we don't let our kids fail because we don't want to be seen as failures as parents. mistakes, poor choices, are good teachers if we allow them to occur and go to their logical end. when they are toddlers, we should let them be hungry when they don't want to eat what we've prepared for them. but she's so thin! if i take away her bottle she won't eat anything! the lady at walmart says she thinks my child has malnutrition! maybe even a vitamin deficiency!
it gets worse when they go to school. teachers and school counselors are either witting or unwitting (is witting a word?) participants in this phenomenon. 'he's gifted, you need to get him into a special program after school' ' she's not performing up to her potential' ' he's our best player' 'she's not turning in her homework' ' he doesn't seem to care about his grades'. you name it, you may have heard one or more of these. the undertone of such comments is 'you're not a good parent' or 'you can succeed through your child'. both are bad. moms seem to be more susceptible to the former, dads the latter. so you do their homework, put them in the special program, let them join the traveling soccer team, whatever. but so you look good in the mirror, you will do it. it often shows up as mom saying things like 'we have a lot of trouble in school' or 'we're not eating very well' or 'we're so busy going from practice to practice'. when moms say 'we', i cringe. in this setting, this means she is taking over for the child, and the child will be damaged by it. what is that mirror (the delayed one) going to look like when she grows up? when he goes to college? gets a job? never having been allowed to fail or quit the gifted/ap class or take time off or not perform at full steam all the time, he will have unreasonable expectations of himself, not knowing that he never did it alone when he was younger. she may be distressed, depressed, stressed. he may keep it up and pass it on to his kids, like the mirror that he is. his programs are telling him that to rescue his children is the right thing to do and that he would be a bad father if he lets them fail so he goes against what his education/religion/faith/psychology class/pediatrician tells him to do, and goes ahead and does what his mother/father did, almost without thinking. so the cycle continues ad infinitum. i see it daily on both sides, the 'bad mom' side at least as often as the 'dad living through his child's success' side. of course the 'bad mom' victims come to me for help for their 'poor eaters' and 'underachievers', while the stress fractures and misuse/overuse injuries of the latter group are their ticket into my office. it's amazing what one can see when one looks for it. you just have to look in the mirror.