I recently had a front row lesson to how much our kids are absorbing and mimicking what they see.
My oldest daughter had a school friend over to play one afternoon. This sweet friend — who sports baseball caps and athletic shorts on the regular — was extremely kind to my second daughter, who is almost 10 years old. The friend included my daughter in everything her and my oldest daughter were doing. My second daughter was very impacted by this visit.
I’m not sure if she was more impacted by the kind, inclusive treatment by this friend or more impacted by the cool confidence she possesses. But something about this friend really made a difference in my daughter’s heart.
After this friend went home, I saw my second daughter joyfully bound down our stairs wearing a baseball hat and athletic shorts. I’d not seen her wear these shorts or any athletic shorts before, let alone wear a baseball hat. I knew she had been deeply inspired by the friend.
Since then, my second daughter has worn this new look almost daily. She is incredibly committed to this new vibe after being around this other young girl for one simple afternoon.
This reminded of a couple important truths.
Our Kids Are Watching and Absorbing
Whatever our kids are around, in person or through the media, they are taking in and storing in their minds and hearts.
They may not be copying everything they are exposed to, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping it in their mind.
Kids Make a Great Impact on Each Other
This situation reminded me how the way our children act, dress and even what they value, can influence other children. I see this often within my four kids.
If one sibling has a bad attitude about something — it’s contagious. Especially if any older sibling says something shocking like, “I hate school!” You can almost bet money that sometime after hearing that sentiment a younger sibling will say the same.
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On the other hand, if a sibling thinks some random thing is cool, others will follow and probably feel the same.
Be More Diligent About What Is Exposed to Our Kids
If my children are so impressionable in that one afternoon can change how my daughter dresses, how important is it for me to guard what she is exposed to?
It feels to me like our children are precious blank slates anyone can write on. We must be careful who and what has access to write on our children’s hearts and minds.
A few years ago one of my daughters had a friend who loved to wear her hair in a low ponytail. Wouldn’t you know, my daughter has only worn her hair in a low ponytail since having this friendship.
Another daughter had a friend cut all her hair in a “creative” accident. Guess who else wanted her hair cut extremely short after this? Yep. My daughter’s.
Our kid’s friends matter a lot. Our kid’s teachers matter a lot. What they watch on devices matter a lot.
Our kids are watching and absorbing everything around them and forming how they view themselves and the world.
Why do grown American women often feel to be beautiful they should be a certain weight/size? Why do so many women in America dye their hair blonde to feel prettier? When you’re told something or see something honored when you are young, you tend to believe it for a long time.
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As parents, one of our main jobs is to filter the world around our children so they can form healthy views and the world until they have the maturity, wisdom, and discernment to filter things for themselves.
Our kids aren’t ready to see, hear, and understand everything yet. There will be time for that later. For now, let’s help protect their beautiful hearts and minds so they form strong views on what is beautiful, lovable, and valuable and let them just be kids for this short time.
I love this article so much, Jami! What a great reminder.