YOU might have heard and even used the two expressions ‘What you see is what you get’, and ‘You are what you eat’. As is often the case, they might have likewise at the time been used to talk about things, though different in terms of context. But one thing is clear though: despite usage, the message put across is always the same: everything is the result of a process. Further down the line, it could also mean that every little thing we do has a corresponding effect on whoever is around you. A free jam to Newton’s third law of motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
So, when observing children, one cannot help but ask, what on earth really shapes and molds these creatures? Surely, they are never like other of mother nature’s crawlies and creations. For one, they are unpredictable in their development and two, brimming with God-given free will.
Not to brag (which I’m in a way already doing), but in our family alone, I have watched at least 42 babies bloom their way from tiny tot, into teen and some to adulthood. How I wish now I had photographic memory, because accounts on each niece, nephew and grandies, like how some of their first day at school was like, plus other significant events in their young lives, all prove to be entertaining Sunday after-lunch tales that could be shared with the clan over beer, Covid permitting.
Aside from their parents (biological, robot and otherwise), close relatives inevitably play significant roles and obviously, the influences of each one gradually intermixes later with the child’s steady accumulation of friends and acquaintances from the school years and elsewhere.
Eventually, any parent will lose count of the many influences in the child’s development. That is a given. Not a scary thought really because unless one ties their children to their legs, there’s nothing else they can do except to keep open that communication line between them and their sons and daughters in order to keep up with their pace. Sadly, once adulthood comes around and they flex their wings to leave the roost, that’s as far as it goes. One’s only hope is that they have armed their children with enough to make it on their own.
But back to the early query on what really shapes and molds children. Safe to say, any creature is the product of their environment. No rocket science there. To add, environment can also mean the people in it, and finally, to venture further, these influences reach across to whatever culture is there as a whole.
An ancient African proverb says it best, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Despite, the irrepressible prodding of digital technology in the form of cell phones, the internet and what-not, the communal society at the moment thankfully survives, but the question remains, for how long? Perhaps, this should be what any parent has to keep in mind as they look at babies absorbing everything around them, in preparation for a takeover.
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