How a child forms a “Self”, or, Does She/He?
By Naomi Aldort
Author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves
If you love yourself, then whatever your child becomes will be to your taste and joy. Any rejection of your child’s nature is a rejection of your own (either parent.)
But how does a child become, within their nature, the specific accumulations of habits, behaviors and what we call “character?” Is the child born with some entity called “self”, or are her traits a combination of innate possibilities and mirroring of us?
The big riddle is: What does it mean letting the child be free, be herself, be rooted inside? What “self?” Is there such a “thing” outside of the creation through thought and habits?
My current observation of this endless theme is that ultimately there is no “self” other than the accumulation of thoughts comprised of the impressions of life, parents first and others and all of life over time. And that the child’s “hard drive” has innate ways of absorbing the world trends, thoughts and habits.
I think about this a lot because I find myself knowing less and less. Most adults who are joyful, powerful and take life with appreciation, humor and astonishment, come from parents who fit this description (at least one of them does), REGARDLESS OF PARENTING STYLE.
This does not mean that we throw learning and growing out the window. On the contrary. We may want to focus even more on raising ourselves and less on what we do with the child; while, the stories about the child is our teacher because it is our mirror.
The child becomes your offspring whether home schooled or not, whether co-sleep, breastfed… or not. Even authoritarian or not does not make as great an impact as who you are and what your relationship with your spouse is. The child may be a reaction against you, but that too is shaped by your being. There is no way out; just like physical genetics, the psychological make up of a person is formed from the “womb” of living with parents. 20 or so years “gestation.”
With this confusion in mind, how do I know if my young child is being herself or mirroring me? How do I know her way of being is innate and not formed by my ways with her? After all, a baby comes into our lives with no frame of reference from which to form a way of being. Children who grew up with animals and have animal like traits see themselves as being free to be themselves.
Our job ends up removing ourselves from the equation. And it tells us that the best thing we can do for a child, is: Raise ourselves and get out of the way. Animals push their offsprings away. Birds push them off the nest when ready to fly.
Knowing that the child is ready to fly is complicated for some of us because we confuse the child’s attempt to fit in with our expectations – with who they are.
This blog is not an answer, but an opening. My child is free and this is how he is… may not be ultimately or fully true. You can be a total attachment parenting mom and dad and allow the child to find herself within but what is she finding without your thoughts? You can also do the same external parenting care and not allow the child his own self-awareness and be fooled to think the child is being free.
Perhaps one reason parents love taking the family intensive retreat, sessions via Skype, and attend the 3 days workshops, is that in working on themselves they regain the ability to see and to distinguish the child’s nature from the child’s fitting in with their program.
However you choose to help yourself, it is crucial to your child that you wake you up to reality for his own ability to form a “self” that is sustainable. Dependency and fitting into your story is not sustainable.
Copyright Naomi Aldort 2018