Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Many children learn behaviours and pick-up certain attributes from their parents. This helps to build character from a young age and surely teaching our kids strong values gives them a solid foundation that helps to inform their decisions they make throughout life. Just like we see on all those nature documentaries, where the cubs form habits in the wild through observing what their parents do, like how to forage and fend for themselves and behaviour towards other animals. Now I’m certainly not suggesting we are as primal as animals in the wild, but I think it makes a very good point, in that our behaviour in situations and attitude towards people play a big part in influencing how our children respond in similar circumstances. It is also fair to argue that there are limitations to how much we can influence our children’s behaviour as they start to form their own reasoning and opinions about the world around us. It’s the old nature vs nurture argument.
As parents, we believe we have considerable influence over who our kids become and consequently, how our actions contribute to their future successes or failures later in life. We invest so much time and energy into making sure we are shaping our kids into successful adults, but does it actually make any difference?
"If you’re raising your child in a house filled with books, surrounded by people who read a great deal for pleasure, it is probably very likely that your child will show an interest in reading"
I’ve seen parents who have shown compassion and cared for their kids throughout their life and teach them basic principles about the value of showing generosity, kindness, empathy, honesty, and so on. These are all basic life lessons we teach our kids at home right? I've seen how those very kids turn out completely different from what their parents may have expected - just an observation.
Take Haringey, one of the most deprived areas of London (source: London.gov.uk) it has a huge number of underprivileged families, and it is very common to find children adopting similar behaviours as their parents and influenced by the environment that they’re in. You would often find that if for example, the parents are collecting benefits, that it is likely that the children would one day follow suit, it’s an ill-fated cycle for most.
Similarly, if you’re raising your child in a house filled with books, surrounded by people who read a great deal for pleasure, it is probably very likely that your child will show an interest in reading. Is it down to the environment that they're in that largely defines the person they will one day become or is it that they inherently love doing these things anyway?
What’s important in either scenario, in my view, is having a positive influence on children’s lives to help foster good moral values. It doesn’t guarantee how they turn out, but at least it will help to have a positive influence in the lives of our children and that's all we can do really. After all, children are very impressionable.
Let us know what you think. What approach do you take?