By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
We hear voices. Yes, both of us. Doesn't everybody?
Usually these voices speak to us when we least expect it. They talk to us when we wake up in the morning, drive down the road, shop in the grocery store, or exercise. They make themselves heard while we listen to the radio, work with horses, or write a column for this newsletter.
The voices talk to us intermittently. Sometimes we don't hear them for days. At other times they seem to arrive regularly, in rapid succession. We never know when they will show up. Our voices are not predictable. They just pop into our heads sometimes.
The voices can be loud or soft. They can sound angry or sincere. They can threaten or encourage. They can be cold or warm.
Our voices have a familiar sound. We know who they are. They are the voices from parents past, messages that live on in our heads and hearts.
Following are messages from our voices that have spoken to us in the past year.
"Big boys don't cry."
"You are not leaving the house without a belt to hold your pants up."
"You get to have your own pace."
"You need to cut your hair."
"Keep going. You almost had it."
"You could be right about that."
"Don't worry about money. That's my job. If you need some, just come and ask."
"You better do well in algebra, because I can't help you."
"You're wasting your money buying all those baseball cards."
"Wipe that frown off your face."
"I was wrong. I made a mistake."
"You got a mulligan."
"You can take a break whenever you want."
"What will the neighbors think?"
"What do you mean you're not coming for Thanksgiving? We're not going to live forever, you know."
"You're a hard worker. You can handle it."
"You'll know what to do when the time comes."
"I look forward to our time together."
"Thanks for taking care of that. Without your help I probably wouldn't have gotten that done."
"I can get more religion fishing in a boat than I can from going to church on Sunday."
"You need to treat your mother with more respect. Look at all the things she does for you. You need to show her more appreciation."
"Yes, I'll play catch. Let me get a glove."
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
"People are different for a reason."
"You get to make your own decisions regardless of what your friends say."
"I love you."
These voices are voices from the past. They were spoken many years ago by parents who were doing the best they could to bring their children up with love and concern. We suspect they did not know at the time that they were planting life sentences in the minds and hearts of their children. We believe that process was largely unconscious on their part.
So now we ask ourselves, "What life sentences are we planting, watering, and cultivating in our children? What voices will they be hearing thirty years from now? Will we like what we are telling them? Will they?"
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of Parent Talk Essentials. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free Uncommon Parenting blog. To obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their website today: www.uncommon-parenting.com