Way back when I had not been teaching long…
When I was young, childless and somewhat ignorant…
I came to the conclusion that children are a product of their parents.
I didn’t just mean that in a purely biological sense either. I meant it in a ‘woah mamma we’ve created a monster’ kind of way.
Sure, there are other things that influence a child as they grow up, but they are small fry when compared to the influence a parent has on the sort of person their kids turn out to be.
Now, some years later, with almost eight years of parenthood under my belt, I am not so sure if I believe that notion quite so wholeheartedly.
Perhaps it is because, as a parent, that is a darn scary idea to contemplate. We, The Father Figure and I, what we say, how we do things, who we are… Just us, we are responsible for the kind of adults our children will become.
Or perhaps it is because I am older, and wiser and perhaps I can see now that as a child grows the influence that I, as a parent, have over them lessens. But does that giving way to outside influences ever really negate the incredible influence of a parent?
I’m not sure.
What do you think?
Are children a product of their parents?
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
I hope to the high heavens I’m not a product of my parents. That is one of my nightmares! I know they’ve influenced me, they’ve influenced me to want to NOT be like them. I don’t have any children yet, which might be ok at nearly 24, so who knows how it will turn out when I do have children. I already know that I think a lot differently from them, and this frequently causes debates, anger, and shut-outs. I just don’t want my possible children to feel the same resentment towards me that I feel toward my parents. So yes- they’ve influenced me, they’ve created a product- a product very different from themselves.
I’m an early childhood teacher and yes, I too thought they were 100% a product of their parents. Then I had kids. I am pretty sure, based on a sample size of 2, that kids are fairly well born with their temperament and personality and best you can do is manage that and hope for the best. (Is the short answer! ;) )
I don’t know. It scares me too.
Tonight F’s teacher said to us (as he has many a time). ‘Keep doing what you are doing, whatever it is – it’s working’. When infact most of the time we feel quite the opposite, as in ‘what are we doing wrong!!’
I think many things are innate, a combo of genes and genetic predispositions etc, but with a healthy dose of their own ‘soul’ for want of a better expression, but I like to think our support can help them achieve their best.
Adrienne D. says
I wholeheartedly agree with your comment. I couldn’t have said it any better! Thank you for sharing.
Dorothy @ Singular Insanity says
I think that parents are a huge influence. I can see it in my family for generations. Those first few years with parents or guardians or other significant adults can really make or break us.
And yet, I think there is a little (or huge) something inside of us that helps us to overcome the nurturing (or lack of) to become who we want to be. That is if we even give that any thought. A lot of people don’t even think about it. They just get on with their lives and not question the reasons or possibilities.
I think that the more self-awareness one has, the more likely one is to either overcome, or build on, our parents’ influence.
Jo @Countrylifeexperiment says
As a high school teacher, I have always thought that there are a number of factors that affect a child, but that parents have a huge influence. Quite often I have come across teens who have gone “off the rails” despite well meaning, loving, involved parents. I see kids who arrive in high school and meet “the wrong crowd”, and we see a very rapid change in behaviour. I know the parents of these kids are often tearing their hair out trying to deal with the issues.
On the other hand, I have taught kids who are appallingly behaved, and their parents are equally badly behaved. I have met parents who want me to tell their 13 year old that they are not allowed to have alcohol at their party, because the parent isn’t game to say no. I have met parents, that if you ring them to inform them of their child’s behaviour, they swear at you and tell you it is your problem (I have lots of stories).
Generally speaking, parents who are involved and supportive of their children, who provide clear and consistent expectations, have children who are engaged and happy. I don’t believe that parents are entirely responsible for their children’s behaviour, but I also believe that good parenting in the early years (I don’t mean super tough, just engaged, supportive, consistent parenting) is essential if kids are to grow up and feel engaged with their school and community.
I think it is a bit of both – children have an ‘inbuilt’ temperament and personality, but how they manage their personality traits can be influenced by parents.
You only have to look at the confidence of happy children who have engaged parents and compare them with less fortunate children who find it hard to get a parents’ attention (or worse) to know that parents have some influence.
Susan, Mum to Molly says
How about the other way Kate, are you the product of your parents?
As I approach a certain age I do feel like there are quite a few ways in which I’m ‘turning into my mother’…
I used to think that children were mostly a product of their upbringing and their own unique personalities.
Then Boy Child went to school. Suddenly his parents didn’t know anything because it seemed everything the teacher said was the only truth in the world. So I have revised my thoughts. I think Your upbringing is only a small part of you. Your personality and temperament are just if not more important. Upbringing and personality influence how you relate to the others around you.
I think that children are definantly an insight into the parents, however the old nurture verses nature debate can go on forever.
I can’t really comment though, as Em is only 14 weeks old, so I don’t know what ‘product’ I’m developing at this stage
Heather @ Life, Gluten Free says
I think that parents are definitely a huge influence. I know my parents were on me and I see it now being a parent myself. My daughter has definitely already (at 4yrs old) learned a lot from observing us. I believe that it’s very important how you respond to your childs needs and how you teach them about their emotions, etc. So yes, I believe that children are greatly influenced by their parents.. I like to think that my daughter is her own person though, not necessarily a product of me or my husband but rather her own being with bits and pieces of us blended in.
Great discussion! :)
Heather @ Life, Gluten Free says
I wanted to say too that I really believe that its important how parents behave and how they interact with other people , because children are great observers and I think they learn a lot from simple observation.
Humans are very good observers and learn from their environment. I think children in abusive households will also learn patterns from being in those situations. I think parental involvement and behavior is very, very important to how a child will interact with their peers and respond to situations that come up in their life throughout childhood and even later on in life.
Wouldn’t a child learn to throw something in anger if their parent did? Would they learn to take a deep breath when anger comes in, if their parent did?
I don’t think we are just a byproduct of our personalities or genes.. I think it’s deeper than that and we learn so much from the ones we spend the most time with. I believe people learn positive and negative memes that they carry with them well into adulthood.
I think it is so very, very true how important the role of parenthood is. Children will become adults and make their own decisions… but the experiences of life that they had as a child will always be with them and I believe it can have an extreme impact on how they view and interact with the world.
Jodi Gibson @ The Scribble Den says
Absolutely. Children learn by imitation, and with environment and genetics thrown in how could they not be?
I always loved Dr. Phil’s statement “You are writing on the blank slate of your child’s life”. Very poignant.
They are a reflection of us and themselves, I think it depends to the family and the parents. I do think they have a path of their own though.