What you know before you start parenting
A man is judged by the company he keeps.
That’s a very old adage. It’s useful for parents and society when looking at a kid.
There’s another sad truth about it though, The simple fact that it is just rare for a kid to exceed their peers. If you’re in a group of kids heading for college, you’re probably going to go to college. If you’re in a group of kids that’s not gonna go to college, it’s less likely that you will.
Survival of baby monkeys was dependent upon the infants imitating the successful monkeys. In the world as they know it, the most successful monkeys are the male and female who have lived long-and-well enough to have babies.
It is a fact that if your mothers reaction to mice, is to get up on a chair: So shall the baby.
With very few exceptions, the fears of the parents become the fears of the child.
Even more ‘behaviors’ than that, but especially the BELIEF systems, are impressed upon the child whether they follow them into the adult world or not.
Anything that you praise the child for, or anything that garners more than the usual attention, will be a behavior that the child builds on and repeats for the rest of his life. For better or worse.
If you treat your child as if he is a sports lover or you decorate his room that way, it is likely you will have a sports fan in the family.
If your kid picks up a plastic knife and runs around the house and gets attention for that, and maybe you even buy him a little Viking hat and shield and everyone laughs, that kid is going to have “different“ values and Lord knows how that could turn out.
Absolutely the most powerful complement you can pay a kid, is something that you say to one of your friends or family within earshot of the kid. It is a complement about the child TO ANOTHER GROWNUP that carries “all of the weight in the world“. Use that to your advantage.
I don’t know if a parent wants their kid to admire wealthy businessmen, intellectuals, social activists, or scientists. But if, at key times, your baby sees you genuinely appreciating a particular discipline of human culture, they will “buy-in“ in order to please you.
If you want your kid to be a doctor. Don’t tell them that you want them to be a doctor. Just, whenever you see a doctor, or a picture of a doctor, or an article about a doctor, show that Dr. admiration and make sure your kid sees that. Talk about how wonderful doctors are.
During the first year of life, a child simply adapts to a world of calm, humor, agitation, or fear, even pain. All they absorb is the “way“ their world is. The world is calm. The world is anxious. Give them a calm, supportive world.
In the second through the fifth year, they are magnets absorbing behaviors, reactions, and all of your most basic behaviors. This is important: Between the age of three and seven, they will believe literally *anything* you tell them that they are. Stupid, smart, incapable, capable, special or worthless.
For better or worse. Totally internalized. Later in life it will take Counseling to dislodge the ideas that you put in their heads through this age.
You would be smart to treat any gendered baby like a tough little boy, until you can’t deny that they are a little girl. That was one mistake I made raising kids. I treated Katie differently, and I should’ve made her come with us when we knocked around. My boys saw a lot more of the world by the time they were 11 then she did. As such, her beliefs, confidence, and mannerisms did not come from me.
As you sit reading this, you are a human just like everyone else. Except, you are a human with experience, well-practiced abilities, and knowledge.
A baby, is the same human as you are and you should respect that. We tend to think of them as babies without realizing that there is a “person“ in there.
That person has no experience, no abilities, can’t even lift its own head, and no knowledge. It is no wonder that it cries almost all the time. It cannot make it self comfortable, it only has the one form of communication, and its first experience is to cry and get attention.
I said all that to say this: you are the curator of the planet. You are the person to show these babies the world. Show them what a sign is. Show them what a bird is doing. Show them why there are lights on cars. Show them why the sky lights up in the morning on a particular side of the house. Sure, they’ll figure all that out without your help. But it is a different kind of kid and a different kind of parent, and a different relationship; when you make yourself the tour guide in a calm and loving fashion.
After raising my kids, and seldom doing that, I met a couple of fathers who did that and their kids are even closer to them. Their Parents made themselves into people that their kids trusted and looked to for more information than the average parent. They cultivated “appreciation“ from a very young age. Not to mention the fact that their kids were more “aware“ at a younger age of “how things work“.
If you decide to be a mean parent, and jump on misbehavior with both feet, that’s fine. Only if, on the other hand, your kids ALSO feel that you love them and you would stand between them and a tiger.
Kids are like water and they will fill every corner and crevice of the box that you put them in. If there is a hole in the box they will find it and they will go out through it. There are parents who close the hole in the box. And there are also parents who negotiate and try to bring the water around to “seeing the error in its ways trying to leak out of the box.“
Yes, it would be preferable for a child to “decide to work hard to be cooperative, pleasant, and obedient.“ But as I said before, these people have no experience being adults and exhibiting adult behavior. And below a certain age you just have to put boundaries on things.
Babies are simply adults just like you and me with 100% amnesia. Living in useless, inadequate bodies. Treat them with respect and compassion.
Babies are simply monkey babies watching and absorbing everything just to survive the Panthers.
Take an active role throughout your child’s life of “showing them how everything works“ and you will make yourself necessary, and trusted.
Never underestimate the child. Their only deficiencies are under-developed bodies, skills, and experience. They are just like you and me, if we were sent back in time to inhabit deficient bodies and under-developed brains.
The effect of keeping that in mind, is that even when that little person does silly and even “wrong“ things, you still have to maintain your respect for the sentient human being trapped inside.
A child is just a “person“ trapped in a deficient body with an under developed brain and essentially no abilities.