Updated: Sep 26, 2022
As adults we may be carrying around messages that were instilled in us since childhood.
The messages could have come from our parents, grandparents, school teachers, church leaders, sporting coaches. You may have been told there is an appropriate way to behave, dress, speak, or even think. A message could be “think of others before yourself, otherwise you are selfish”.
Children come into the world and learn from their surroundings as babies, the way a person communicates with them, their facial expressions, body language, smell, etc.
A child can see certain behaviours in their caregivers and as they get older, believe those behaviours are ‘normal’. Some children are programmed to believe a certain way of being from their church leaders. The church may also indoctrinate a way of thinking and believing and then that becomes the ‘norm’ for the child as well.
A way of thinking and believing about themselves can also come from a school teacher. A statement could be made to a child such as “You certainly aren’t the student your brother was. You won’t amount to much with these grades” or from a sporting coach who wants the best out of someone they think has great potential. The child could hear “what’s the matter with you. Is that the best you can do”. Often said repeatedly over a period of time. The child is often wanting to please their coach so will make sure they do better next time. At what cost? Sure some children will do well with this style of coaching, however a lot will struggle.
What happens then when two people want to bring children into the world and may have different ways of thinking about how to raise a family?
It’s interesting that when we are born, we come fr
om the DNA of both our parents and they have also been influenced by the messages they received in their childhood. Sometimes these messages can become rigid ways of thinking and being, with little flexibility. Each person has a direct genetic line and sometimes the messages become so strong and embedded that a person may not realise that they have a choice in the way they think and feel rather than what they have been programmed to believe. This then becomes a ‘belief’ system to live life by, not realizing there are choices. I know ‘programmed’ seems like a harsh word, however, what I am really saying is the behaviours of significant people in a person’s life are often the product of what they have learnt in their younger years.
Another way a child learns is by how they see their parent reacting to situations, say, for example, a boy may see his father being verbally and physically abusive to his mother. This could be seen as ‘what men do’ and view toxic masculinity as normal behaviours , needing to prove themselves as a man and repeat the pattern when in a relationship in their adult life. Because of those childhood messages this could also be viewed as being the ideal of a hyper masculine person.
A male who feels uncomfortable about certain learnt beh
aviours from his childhood may begin to understand the need to break the cycle of abuse and find the help needed to control feelings of anger and rage.
Hear more on my podcast channel
In my podcast which can be found on Spotify, Apple, iHeart, etc ( links can be found at https://podcast.janbaylisscounselling.com.au ) I explore more fully the process of how we respond to situations in our lives and ways old childhood messages are still playing out as adults and how we can become more emotionally responsible for choices made.