Have you ever heard someone say that if you believe something is true, you’ll see it? Or have you read the quote that said, “Believe to see”? This is actually one of my husband’s favorite quotes. The idea behind both phrases is really quite simple; if you believe in something it will happen or you’ll perceive it happening or in the least sense you’ll only notice when it happens.
This realization is beautiful in so many ways, as it really (only when fully adopted) gives you the peace of mind that what you expect will happen. When used in parenting, believing certain things about your child will always somehow manifest into reality, especially if you look at it in the long term. Sounds weird and unrealistic? Let me explain how this happens within the context of parenting;
When you have a certain belief about your children, i.e. they are kind and caring. Your perception of their behavior and how you act upon it, is always filtered by this belief. Hence when they become unkind in certain situations you’ll always use words, responses and even consequences that enforces your belief of them.
How? Well let’s say your daughter refuses to wash her dinner dish after eating, even after you’ve asked her nicely and told her that you’re tired tonight and cannot bother to do the dishes. If you unconsciously had the belief that she’s caring and loving you’d be first surprised as to why is she doing so, then you might ask questions about it or maybe immediately make the assumptions that she is very tired too or not feeling well to do it. What you’ll say and do in this situation then will not involve any shaming, blaming or maybe enforcement but will most probably involve empathy, understanding and curiosity on what would work.
This is not the only positive aspect of a positive belief about your children. Here’s where self-fulfilling prophecy comes in; when your child observes you day-in and day-out of their lives believing that they are loving and caring, they will eventually internalize this self-image. The belief that they are loving and caring will enable them to act in a loving and caring way to you and to others around them.
But self-fulfilling prophecy works both ways; if you internalize a negative belief about your children (i.e. violent, immature, selfish, dis-respectful), your responses and behavior towards them will also be filtered through this belief (i.e. warnings, ultimatums, punishments, strict rules, or even sometimes blaming them for things you’re not 100% sure they actually did) and they will in turn and in the long term (in most cases) internalize this belief about themselves.
My point is simple really, but ofcourse (like any other aspect of parenting) difficult to apply and be consistent about; are you conscious of what kind of beliefs you internalize about your children? If you’re not clear about it, I invite you to question the underlying beliefs of your responses to them in the different situations of life. Pick one situation at a time and reflect on it with curiosity.
Being conscious is a key ingredient of peaceful parenting, being aware of these beliefs will enable you to alter or celebrate them in the way that is in integrity with yourself and your values. It will also be a your way of teaching your children about themselves and their self-concept. Like every parent around the globe, I too want my children to have a loving, kind, resilient self concept that is re-assured my me and my husband day-in and day-out.
Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.