Let your children express who they are and let them become the person they are meant to be. Show them how to share their voice.
Build their self-worth. Grow their self belief. Develop their self-efficacy.
Engage in conversations with your child and encourage them to articulate their views; as simplistic and naive or completely ridiculous as they may be. Encourage them to discover their voice and nurture it.
I grew up voiceless.
That sounds harsh, I know.
But that is what I remember from most of my childhood.
Not the fun stuff. I remember feeling anxious about everything.
Don’t get me wrong, I did my fair share of being naughty. And I wasn’t locked in a cupboard or kept in a basement or anything physically terrible. I was just expected to be in the background.
I was good at it.
And it destroyed my confidence.
Raised as an only child by the mother of my four siblings. I was 17 years younger than the fourth child in our family; distant enough to be the child of anyone of them.
In fact as a kid I would daydream and wonder if perhaps I was in fact the child of one of my siblings.
Haha, but that as just childhood flights of fancy. I also thought I must be adopted.
However, I look far too similar to my mother for that to be the case.
No, alas I am normal, well, my biology is normal.
My mother was a child of WWII and of an era that believed “children should be seen and not heard”, so even though I came along in the 60’s, in a time of free love and speaking your mind against ‘the man’ I was still expected to be nothing more than a voiceless wall flower.
My Father, rest his soul, died far too early. On a beautiful early Autumn day only a month after my fifth birthday. I don’t think my mother recovered. She was 47.
So, I was stuck.
Stuck between two worlds; that of post war autocratic parenting and the freedom Australia was supposed to lavish upon a 60’s child.
No, Life was no psychedelic acid trip for our household. A household of two; well three actually.
My brother next in line to me, adopted the position of male roll model and supported my mum and me.
He was is my hero.
I had freedoms, I was free to roam around the suburbs and country side to my hearts content.
When I was a bit older, about 10, I would ride my horse out all day; without my mum having any idea where I was.
It was wonderful.
I had the world all to myself. It was great really.
I was just not permitted to have an opinion. I was never free from the dark cloud that held me mute in the shadows of a dominating mother.
I hated physical contact, I loathed family get together for fear of having to hug someone. I even disliked a hug from my mum. Hugging would bring on anxiety. It always felt so plastic.
So, my young, impressionable childhood was spent alone with my own thoughts, most of the time. It has helped me be a deep thinker.
I was alone, even in the presence of others.
I was like a pet, relegated to the corner of the room when guests arrive.
Only, there was no party, no apparent reason to banish. Just an antiquated ideology of how children should behave and be raised.
Needless to say, when I was spoken to, I felt awkward and generally didn’t say much. Being unaccustomed to conversation, it did not come easily. I was terrified that what I might say would be bad or wrong in some way and I would be in trouble.
So, I stayed quiet.
Don’t get me wrong, I had allot to say. I just was too worried to articulate it.
Sure, I spoke when I played with my friends or my nieces (who were my best friends), who were the same age as me. But vary rarely to others.
I did not fit in at school-at all.
I clearly recall my brother trying desperately to strike up a conversation with me on a road trip he and I were going on; he took me camping allot.
He was wonderful.
But he was, in my mind, an adult who I had to avoid conversing with. I couldn’t make the leap to reconcile adult with brother and free conversation. So I didn’t say much.
This must sound all doomy and gloomy and to some extent I guess it is. But from the outside looking in I had an amazing childhood.
I got to live in some outstanding places and explore my world to my hearts content.
I was probably a bit feral.
I learned about the natural world, and how things really work. I experienced things that most people never get to even think about.
And I learned to think for myself and be self sufficient.
So, for that I am grateful.
By sharing this little part of my childhood I simply hope to make a point.
And that is:
Give you child a voice.
Let them understand what it is to be really listened to, and make sure their opinion is respected.
And whatever you do, don’t tell them to “stop imagining things”. Can you imagine what that does to a creative mind?
I feel that if we do not nurture our children’s voices we will lose our most valuable assets.
When we restrict a child from developing their true strengths by inhibiting their ability to test their theses, we inevitably take away their ability to build their mind-map of self.
Losing the ability to know who you are, retards personal growth and sets a child up for a life that is unfulfilled. It is a long road to re-gaining self confidence.
It can take people many years to work through the self doubt.
When people have a voice and are not afraid to use it, great things happen.
So lets, start empowering our children to be strong, mind-full, independent and creative thinkers.
One person can make a difference; imagine what can be done by many.
Until next time