And you have your own parents to thank for that. And they their own parents, and so on, and so forth...
If you’ve ever been to therapy, you’ll know that every anxiety, fear, compulsion, disorder, recurring nightmare and negative thought pattern you possess is ultimately your parents’ fault.
Well… perhaps not every single one. But still, our parents or caregivers have unimaginable power over our psyche.
I went decades without realising just how many unhealthy thought patterns or communication styles I exhibit have a direct link back to my childhood. This is almost unavoidable.
At some point, your parents did or said something that for whatever reason burned itself deep into your subconscious like a branding iron, until decades of hard work scrubbed over it with something else.
But here is the terrifying news, that branding iron has now been passed on to you, you giant clumsy oaf. Some moron has entrusted you to raise a child whilst holding on to that iron and it’s only a matter of time before you trip and scar your kid with one psychological complex or another:
Whoops…. there’s a fear of the dark.
Whoops… sexual hang ups.
Whoops…. neat freak.
Whoops…. can’t leave the house without flossing.
I’ll admit this idea freaked me out a lot in the beginning. It got to the point that I was apologising to my infant daughter any time I made the tiniest mis-step. Something which ended promptly once my partner pointed out that this too would probably mess her up.
So, what can you do with the knowledge of your newfound, godlike powers?
1. Relax, you’ve got bigger problems
Breathe, you dummy, and remember that there is enough to do just taking care of your family without worrying how every action you take will be interpreted in your child’s brain.
Future unknowns are simply not high on the list of priorities right now.
2. Focus on the good your parents did
If you had one of those half decent parents (lucky you!) think back to all the good times you had in your childhood and everything you learnt from them. Yeah, they weren’t perfect but I’m sure they taught you a lot and possibly even role modelled some good behaviours every now and then.
It stands to reason that you’ll accidentally teach your child a few valuable lessons as well.
If you had awful parents (sorry) then I can assure you that you’ll do a hell of a let better than those arseholes.
3. Remember: Babies can’t read minds
Babies might be sponges, but they’re not psychic! If you’re swearing in your head and questioning every decision you’ve ever made while changing your kid’s nappy… but you’re smiling… they’ll only remember the smile.
You have many, many years before they grow smarter than you and cop that you had absolutely no clue what you were doing all along.
4. Communicate with your child
You’ll make mistakes, a hell of a lot actually. You’ll upset your kids, say the wrong things and often do more harm than good. Accept that, but make sure to talk to your child with an awareness of the power of your actions and your words.
Accidentally called your child dumb? Don’t let the word hang over your child, it might ring through their head for years to come. Apologise, tell them you didn’t mean it, and work on proving that you didn’t mean it.
Remember, therapy isn’t cheap so get to work on minimising psychological wear and tear now, and you’ll save money later!