Being a parent can be our most difficult classroom in life. Many of us were raised by well-meaning parents who felt they did their best. Our experience may be quite different but they did what they did and now you’re an adult. Whether or not you think your parents did a good job, you will do some things the same and some different. Our parents are one of the biggest influences in how we see ourselves, others, and the world as a whole.

Right from the beginning, we teach our children they have power over us. We do this by reacting to what they do and say. Who knows how to “push your buttons” more than your kid? Think about what actually happens when your child misbehaves. Your button gets pushed and you react. Any reaction you have usually comes from judging something as bad or wrong. When you react in a negative way, what are you really teaching them? They learn they have the power to make you upset which must teach them that others have the power to make them upset. They learn to judge others and then react to their judgments, just like you do. Worst of all, living like others have power over them teaches a victim mentality. Coming from a space of self-expression and love begins to fade.

How can a child learn to love themselves when the people who are supposed to care about them the most are constantly judging them and teaching them to judge others? You may resist believing this because no one wants to think they teach their children to be victims, but look around. Everyone you know likely blames others for something in their life which is at the core of the victim mentality.

I often ask parents, “Who are you committed to being as a parent?” Most of the time the response is something like, “I’m not sure”. For most parents there really isn’t any commitment to a way of being. The main focus is on how to punish, fix and change their child’s behavior so they can make it to the next day. We look at what the child is doing and then judge it good or bad, right or wrong, etc. and then react to our judgments instead of coming from a commitment. We tell ourselves this helps teach them, and we’re right. It mostly teaches that how they are valued or accepted is determined by what they do instead of who they are. It teaches them to judge because that’s what’s done to them. It may not be conscious, but at some level that is what they learn.

Many children learn to “do” just enough to keep their parents off their back. Their life becomes about doing what their parents want instead of thinking for themselves. Some do the opposite of what their parents want because negative attention is better than no attention. And some appease their parents and have a secret life on the side. Learn to empower your children by being the example you want your kids to follow. I help parents create who they want to “be” so they can come from a commitment instead of just reacting.