When we were little, my dad use to tell us that he had three other wives in different states. That he had whole other families in Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Now, before you start thinking all of your preconceived notions about Southerners are correct, let me just tell you that my father is not actually a polygamist (he and my mom have been married 32 years). He just has an incredibly warped sense of humor.
My mom even played along for a while, so combine those things with three gullible little girls and well, you can imagine the results.
Until I was about six years old, my sisters and I firmly believed we had half-brothers and sisters running all around the southeastern United States.
I tell you this not so you might begin to understand my own warped sense of humor, but to emphasize the fact that our kids, for the first few years of their lives anyway, will believe most anything we tell them.
Lately, I have really been trying to focus on that little factoid and have tried to be more aware of the things I tell my children.
It is a privilege to be their primary source of knowledge and with that privilege comes huge responsibility.
This is the time, when our children are young, that we can help them construct their own view of who they are.
You might be thinking, “Your children are less than three years old, what could you possibly be telling them that will mold their foundational beliefs?
A lot actually.
We parents (and moms in particular) are the biggest influences in our young children’s lives.
I think statistically, we have their ear until they’re about five years old, which is when their peer groups become the most influential people to them.
So while my kids are young, I try and tell them how much I love them.
I encourage them to talk to me and tell them that I want to hear all about their day.
That they’re important to me. That they are unique and special.
When our oldest is playing princess and I ask who which princess she is, she’ll shrug her little shoulders and says, “I’m just Ansley,” and I tell her that is the best person for her to be.
I hope by telling them these things when they’re young, that they’ll believe it as adults.
If I can help create for them a foundation of love, and security, and the belief that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, then I’m going to be more confident when I send them out into a world that tells them that they need to act a certain way or dress a certain way or be a certain way.
I doubt my kids will ever believe they have half-siblings running all around the country (they might believe their yogurt is the same as my ice cream and that juice is only for special occasions), but hopefully they’ll hear and absorb all of the important things I tell them and come out this side of childhood with a little more confidence than if I had just let them try and figure out who they were on their own.
I hope anyway.
we can help them construct their own view of who they are.