Firstly, what does a mirror do?
It can do many things but mainly it is used to reflect light and images from it. Mirrors are all around us – in our homes, in gyms in office spaces and in the toilets. Mirrors are very useful and some of us can’t do without them.
The mirror I am talking about in this blog is what I refer to as the “Mirror of Love”. This name represents the behaviour of children mimicking what they observe in the home, reflecting what they ‘see’ just like mirrors do.
Put simply, children are like mirrors.
My children already reflect so much of what my wife and I do and say. It is uncanny. If you are a parent you would also agree. Watching them mimic you. It forces me to constantly reflect and evaluate how I could have handled a situation better. It raises our game as parents.
You see, children tend to reflect love much more than they initiate it. It seems, if love is given to them, they return it. If none is given, they have little or none to offer. You see, I believe children find their way in life by ‘seeing reflections’. We were all once children, who did you reflect in your mirror of love? Reflect on your life, who were the people in your family growing up that you believe had a strong effect on your personality and behaviour? My grandfather was and still is a lasting influence on my life – in my Mirror of Love.
Children discover themselves by looking at you as a parent. This sense of self-discovery is happening every single moment you or your carer are with them. The thing about mirrors is that it can be dirty or marred and so does not reflect the true image. Or it can show distorted images like the ones we see at amusement parks. I regularly take my kids to Luna Park here in Sydney, Australia and there are a few of these mirrors there, distorting the images of people who walk past them.
We don’t want our children’s sense of self-worth, self-esteem and confidence to be distorted like those mirrors, do we?!
This mirror of love I am referring to could be either clean and provide a clear reflection or it could be dim and marred. This mirror of love is a huge responsibility for every parent. How can we, as parents increase the chance that this mirror of love is clean and showing the true reflections? We can all do this by giving unconditional and constant love. To each other and to our children. This is the cleaning agent that can only be used to increase the clarity in this mirror of love. Period!
Making your love for your children conditional will not serve them well as they develop. I believe it could cause havoc with their sense of self-esteem and self-confidence in their later years. When parental love is conditional and inconsistent, the ‘mirror of love’ encourages children to move in the opposite direction to that which is desirable. Their self-concept suffers as they question who they are from day to day.
As parents, we have all got to be aware of this trap, the trap of conditional love.
I’ve always believed that nothing goes right in life if the home-front isn’t set up right. The home-front needs to be constantly worked on. The home atmosphere is one of the most important qualitiesand is dictated by parents.
The home atmosphere should be the first place to work on. Why? Because the home atmosphere could be one of the most powerful influences on a child’s self-esteem and self-concept. This is the foundation of their emotional growth, their emotional deposits in to the emotional bank account. They will call on these emotional deposits in their future life. As parents, we have got to encourage more and more emotional deposits in their savings account.
Each home has its own atmosphere – few children are blessed with a home that has an atmosphere that is warm, relaxed, calm, friendly, accepting, encouraging and upbeat.
Work hard, very hard to create and maintain such an environment. It allows families to stave off most of the recurring negative emotional diseases of modern life. You name it: anger, jealousy, impatience etc.
As parents, remember, you control the atmosphere in which your children grow up in. You are making a major investment of love and care and money and time in your family and you want a good return on your investment – not just for you but for your children too.
Children’s feelings are based on ‘the amount of time and energy parents invested in them’. Because of the increasing levels of stress parents live with in today’s world from the demands of their jobs, it appears that a lot of parents just don’t have the resilience to deal calmly with normal childhood behaviours. I have observed and learned this in my time in the gym in my associations with parents.
It takes a lot out of parents to keep family and career and all the other obligations in balance – especially when both parents are working.
Parents are on a thin edge and are on the verge of breaking a lot of times because of all the pressure of trying to keep that ‘work-life balance’. When it breaks, and it does for many families, it is the family life that breaks.
A broken home-front. Not ideal.
Before this happens or is at a higher risk of occurring, stop and reflect on your use of your time. Can you spend more time with your family and children (if you honestly think you aren’t doing so)?
What can you do as parents?
Well, firstly WORK on yourself.
In my associations with hundreds of couples and parents over the last 23 years in the gym, I have learned quite a bit about issues relating to the raising of children. One of the most important things and ultimately what really matters in the development of your child is just TIME. Not ‘quality time’ but just time. Try spending more time with your children, and don’t miss a chance to tell them that you love them and letting them know that they are important to you if you aren’t already doing so.
Try and do this often.
In this phase of my life, I am very fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with my two children. They are growing up very fast.
I understand that part of my role as a parent (along with my wife) in my Christian family is the commitment to the caring about all the needs of my family members – emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual. This builds unity.
Remember, the loving times shared by family add to the strength of the individuals and also of the family as a unit. Memories are created when we spend leisure time to play or rest or travel or reading or whatever we like to do.
Make those memories happen. Make it before they grow up and it is too late. Give the most important gift to your children: your time. No amount of money can buy back that time.
Never forget this: Children Learn What They Live.
And also, clean the ‘mirror of love’ with constant and unconditional love – everyday!
I am sure we will all do our best.
Until next time,