Did you know that every child – and every adult – has a story of me wired into their brains? In fact, psychologists believe that the story of me is hard-wired by the time we are eight years old! The question then becomes, what is your child’s story of me? And what is your personal story of me as their Mom or Dad? It is important to know this because very often, quite unconsciously, our own personal story has a major effect on our parenting skills.
So what is a story of me?
It is the encapsulation of everything that we heard others say about us from the time we were born, all the beliefs we formed about ourselves and everything that we experienced, contained in a single, this is me story. In their early years children are not aware that they are ‘writing’ their story and embedding it neurologically in their brains. Kids don’t realize that the way they view themselves, others and life depends on their story. In fact, some adults are not aware of this either, but this is the truth – the story of me that you carry around with you will dictate how you respond to your world.
In some cases this is a blessing and in others it is a burden. One parent told me that her story about herself was that she was funny, and caring and that she made others happy. So guess what? This mom simply does not know how to stop turning everything into a joke, taking caring to an extreme, rescuing others and doing everything in her power to make sure her kids feel no discomfort whatsoever and are always happy. This Mom has no ability to establish boundaries and practice discipline. Her children are growing up with no structure or order and with a sense of entitlement that will not serve them well in life. When I showed her how the family problems they were experiencing stemmed from her story of me, she was astonished.
How to help your children write a life-enhancing story of me.
- Spend some time reflecting on your own ‘story.’ I would recommend that you write it down.
- Once you have written your story, ask yourself:-
– How is this influencing my responses to my family?
– How is this affecting my parenting skills?
- Then think about your child or children. Let yourself reflect on what ‘story’ each of your children has already wired into their brain, or are in the process of wiring.
- Decide if there is anything you want to change about the way you parent so that your child’s ‘story of me’ will be a life-enhancing one.
The steps outlined above are extremely powerful. Sure, going through the process I recommend will probably be confronting – it may make you smile or cry but it can change your life, your children’s lives and the well-being of your family.