Recently a parent dropped their child off for class and told them to “work hard.” These words imply that the child needs to work hard in order to achieve.
Another parent told their child, “be good." Here is a kid that has no intention of “being bad” but now he sees that perhaps his parents see him as “bad” and he now has to be “good.” These judgment statements are taken in by kids as who they are and they develop beliefs accordingly. I have no doubt that this child would be on his best behavior regardless of what the parent told him. But now somewhere in his being he believes that his parent thinks he is “bad” in some ways, otherwise why would he be told to “be good?” And at some time he will have to display bad behavior in order to agree with the belief or continue to question what it even means to be good.
I wonder what is going on that parents say these things.
One thing may be that this is what most parents say and have said for generations- its just what parents are supposed to do. Continuing to do something just because it has always been done that way, bears asking some questions- Is this working? Is there a something more empowering that I can say to my child at these times? How does my child respond to these comments?
Another thought that occurred is that by saying such things as, "Be good." or "Work hard," parents think that by magic their kids will do what the parent expects. The problem is that kids don't really know what is expected of them, what it means to work hard or be good.
How many parents have told their children to “be careful?” The child now has a belief that the world is not safe and there are things to be feared. This is how parents and other adults project their beliefs onto their children.
What would happen if caring adults trusted their children to know what is required for each situation and allowed them to learn from those experiences? What if adults said things like, “be yourself,” “be aware,” “enjoy your time,” or “I’ll be here when you finish”?
If you are concerned about a child's safety, ask them questions that will bring them into their own awareness- How does that feel to you? What may happen if you do that? How would that be for you?
You can also let your child know what you are aware of- My sense is that for today this doesn't feel right, maybe another time or something about this doesn't set well with me, let's see about another day or time.
Empowerment is passed onto a child when you trust them to choose for them and allow them to discover what works best for their life based on their own experiences and not being the effect of an adult’s beliefs or fears.
As adults we can all be more aware of the things that we say and look at the energy behind our words. That awareness can allow us to face some of the beliefs that we have been carrying around and now begin to make some changes that will empower us as well as our kids.