The Magic Age Is Ten: Part Two

Perhaps the most emotionally committed ally you can ever have is your own ten year old child, even if they are afraid of you.   They sit in the middle of infancy and adulthood balanced in the world you have shown them.  They are wanting to be just like something, though perhaps not everything you are showing them, and possibly without either you or them realizing how powerful that influence is.

Children see.  Children hear.  Children follow their parents around and mimic them.  This isn’t new, as we are all hardwired that way.  Hominids have been doing this for over four million years as far as we know.  Since most children will develop behavior patterns from how their parents teach them to deal with the world around them, being the parent of a ten year old makes who you have been for the last decade, and who you are now, a powerful influence.

Teachers also influence the children, don’t they?  Of course they do, and they can also be powerful forces, either positively or negatively.  But the parents are the ones with the strongest, and therefore most likely to be the longest lasting overall influence.  Because of this, and the huge difference in the amount of time and control parents can have more than any individual teacher, few teachers will ever have enough time to overcome all that the children have already “picked up” from Mom and/or Dad.   And it’s also important to remember going forward from age ten, a child’s eagerness to begin to assert themselves as individuals, and even rebel against parental authority, is likely to accelerate–far more so now than at any earlier time.

By the time a child is ten years old, whether the mix of parental influence be predominantly good or bad, a human child is arguably at a most critical pivotal point for the formation of the principal parts of their belief and value systems.  And whether any recognition is given to a pivotal age, societies tend to place a high degree of importance on believing the child-rearing process has a lot to do with, not just what the child learns to value, but also how society values that child when it reaches adulthood.

I’ll bet you’ve heard someone say to another person some kind and uplifting or generally positive remark about the way the other person was probably raised.  Our culture centers around family units.  So to speak respectfully to most of us about our families is usually taken, as well as intended to be, a compliment.  The opposite is also true.

Just because a parent or a grandparent was an ethical person does not mean the child will always grow up to act ethically all the time.  But on the other hand, if we are raised to believe it’s okay to be unethical, the handicap of what we believe, no matter how true or untrue those beliefs may be, could cause them to be most difficult, and for many, unlikely to ever overcome.  Why?  Because by the age of ten, our perceptions of the world around us are very well established.  And they are so to the extent of determining what we will value, as well as some of the things we don’t want (to have or to happen to us) for the rest of our lives.

So as a parent, how long do you have?  Psychologists tell us early childhood will determine a lot about what a child will want to learn, and become capable of learning.  When children are very young, they are dependent on their parents.  But it’s also true for the most part, that they actually do want to be with their parents.   And that is true even when parents, unconsciously or not, are giving the child good reason to want to be away from them.

By the time puberty kicks in, their following and mimicking days are over .  More and more, they’ll want to make their own decisions.  They may not always fully understand why they feel that way, but they might think they do.  And when that occurs, there is little point in expecting them to want mom or dad to show them how to do anything.   Sometimes, their parents don’t understand all of what’s going on, either, because…they have forgotten.

Learning is a process.  That means it takes time.  Well, unless the learning is due to trauma, and when learning is the result of that kind of experience, it ceases to be a process, and becomes an event.  How you help your child get to age ten is largely up to you as far as dealing with processes, or allowing (or causing) trauma.

By ten, a child has a pretty good idea how mommy and daddy resolve problems, disagreements and conflict.  Some children are quite accustomed to yelling, screaming, and physical violence by the time they are ten years old.  And they may well believe, consciously or not, that aggressiveness and force is not only an acceptable way, but the quickest way to get them what they want.  In other words, if they’ve leaned by trauma, they will be likely to teach by trauma.  That’s what they’ve learned; that’s what they know.

A sad addendum to that is, while some children learn to commit violence, quite a few also learn to accept it.  Some who were abused as children continue to allow themselves to be abused as adults, often finding something strangely addictive to what they’ve grown up believing was normal–or at least what they believe they deserve.

Whatever it is that you will teach them about who you are, what you do, and what you stand for and not stand for, will pretty much be well established in their minds by the time they are ten years old.  If you wait ’til then to get started, you may have waited too late.

But even if you haven’t, you’ve wasted a whole decade that will never come again, and the time you have left will pass quickly.  And during most of that time, they might not listen to you the way they had been willing to earlier.  Be sure that for whatever it is they’ve learned, you were far and above all others their principal teacher whether you realized it or not.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mickey Foster on February 14, 2014 at 11:17 am

    we learn language by mimicking the sounds we hear, then we associate the sounds with meaning…behaviors have to be the same…we are not predestined to be good nor evil…we become the people we are by observation and emulation of those close to us……..the video was simple yet quite powerful…….


  2. Posted by Dostadawg on February 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I taught my sons that they may not always know that something they say or do will be remembered by another person. They both learned that lesson well. Ashamed to say that my actions have not always been the best teacher. Fortunately they understand.
    Great video.


  3. Posted by Wayne Casasanta on February 14, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    This message has been brought to you by Van Brown, Ancient Philosopher. Wise words from a man of wisdom. We do not realize how many people are watching our actions every day in addition to our own children. Are we a positive or negative influence? Do we encourage or criticize? Are we a witness for Jesus or for other influences? Our children are gifts from God. It is important to cherish and nurish those gifts every day.


  4. Posted by betty on February 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    hope I did ok


  5. Posted by Jane Leonard on February 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Happy Valentines Day! You are a man of wisdom!


  6. Posted by little d on February 16, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Another good Press VT, after reading it several times, I recalled a question I’ve pondered on many times. What is and what could / should be a definite answer to the question of Human Goals ? Do they exist ? Were they given to you by your Parents before you were 10yrs old ? Did you discuss them or encourage them to your Children ? I don’t recall a time when I ever heard or read a Human Goal, maybe I just missed them, or my Parents and Teachers forgot to mention them.

    Individual Goals were common practice education. Keep yourself focused and committed to working towards where you want to be later in life was discussed frequently. Many books were written on the importance of sticking to realistic goals and I would tend to agree with their track record as beneficial to the process.

    What is it to point out that Humans without definitive goals will not reach them ? Is that the goal ? I would say that some goals were developed and accepted as being required to accomplish what Humans were setting for themselves as goals, but only in the observation that we rely on each other to obtain our individual goals, or others participation in ours is mandatory for their success.

    Individualism among all species is undeniable, undeniable as well is they all exist within the layers of one Planet Earth. It could be that some individuals goals may require that we as the People never have any, for that may become threatening to already existing individual goals, I don’t know why for sure but I do know why I ponder their absence.

    I would think the Worlds problems smaller, its confrontations less fatal, its future more desiring and clear, if there was a common goal we all knew as a species before we were ten years old, preferably in my opinion, that existence is far more the opportunity among those species that accept its realities and engage in a common commitment to its perseverance than those that do not, cannot, or will not.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us Van,

    little d


    • Posted by thevanbrown on February 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      Yes. “…existence is far more the opportunity among those species that accept its realities and engage in a common commitment to its perseverance than those that do not, cannot, or will not.”

      A goal, if not internalized to the extent that an individual is willingly committed, at best, even when there is followthrough, is only compliance. And with that, you can generally not expect what is not inspected. In other words, if it isn’t monitored, it very likely ceases to happen.

      Further, a goal is barely more than a wish unless it is specific, and has a deadline. Other than specific, you need to know how to measure it, and the steps toward its completion. You have to believe it is attainable, or you’re not likely to try. It also needs to be realistic. Some things are possible, but not very practical. I like to ask that they be tangible goals to avoid the mistake of just allowing “happiness” to be the goal. Now while it might make you happy to attain something you want, in that process, “happiness” is the by-product, isn’t it?

      With the child, they have to learn how to come up with goals, anf that often begins with asking them what they want. Then, help them understand what is required to be able to realize it. Even when they may still not understand it all, encourage them, and be prepared to answer questions.

      The common goal or commitment? Sometimes the thing that hinders such as that might be some misunderstandings about what it consists of and how to make it come about. And sometimes, whether it is true or not, the handicap lies in the perception that there may not be enough of something to go around. Those most reluctant to share will be those most fearful of being left not able to fulfill their own wants and needs. And since they are fearful (phobic) in that way, they are easily dominated by some who will capitalize on that fear. But all that I’ve said here is an opinion, and of course I could be wrong.


  7. Hi Van, thank you for this powerful post and the you tube posting which was beyond scary. As parents we have such a huge responsibility to our children. Sadly, those who do not fulfil them do not know how because of heir own experience. Fortunate the child who has at least some other positive influence in their lives if their immediate caregivers (parents) are unavailable by way of giving love, a home, food, education.
    Thank you again … cause for pause …


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