Sunday, July 26, 2009


Do you ever wonder why children seem to be miniature portraits of their parents? Sometimes I laugh aloud when I watch my son walking because he has the exact same gait and swagger that my husband has. The only problem is that my husband walks the way that he does because he has a bad back and knees from the wear and tear over the years. So why then does our eight-year-old’s walk mirror his father’s? Surely he doesn’t have pre-arthritic symptoms! The answer is pretty clear…he has adopted his juvenile swagger due to the phenomenon known as modeling.

While there is no harm in a child copying his daddy’s walking pattern, this mimicking can pose a problem when it relates to emotional issues. How we cope, how we express our emotions, and how we demonstrate love and admiration are all things that we pass on to our children. Oftentimes I can tell what parents are like before meeting them just by the way their children act. For example, kids who are unduly aggressive or who use profane language are usually in an environment where they see and hear such behaviors. Sure, behavior and temperament do have a genetic component as well. But remember that children learn largely by watching what we adults do and how we react.

A national study was done recently in which it reported that 1 out of 4 adults is clinically depressed. Suicide is on the rise, particularly among African American men. Other studies show that 1 out of 3 girls are molested before the age of 18, and 1 out of 5 boys report having been molested during this same time frame. The emotional baggage that this sort of trauma creates is extensive, and without the needed therapy can have lasting debilitating effects. Moreover, it can negatively impact future relationships and how one relates to others.

It is so important to the success of our families that we, as adults, heal ourselves so that we can be fully functional, happy, and effective parents. Our children are watching, learning, and imitating our behaviors, and your baggage can ultimately become their baggage. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms related to depression or anxiety, please consult with a counseling professional. It will not only make a difference in your life, it will make a difference in your child’s life as well.

Happy Parenting,
Gaetane Borders, MA, ABD

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