Monday, March 21, 2011

Incidental Learning

As Gibbs and I bumble our way through another attempt to re-understand our various difficulties with communication, I find myself amazed, and frightened, at how much of our lives are a result of incidental learning.

A marriage counselor told me last week that most of my communication techniques (and Gibbs') have been learned through our parents' method of communicating. Gestures, Tones, A Look, Body Language.... This is not to blame my husband's parents at all (or mine) His way isn't "bad" way isn't "bad"  It just so happens that they don't naturally blend. They have to be slowly changed by God, will, or force (haha kidding!)

This has me thinking a lot about my children. I am sure you have heard the statistic about 90% of a child's education being incidental, but I never really thought about it before this. I did understand as far as crawling, or how to eat with a fork, or how to pick up a cup... all of which I didn't actively try to teach them, but somehow they did anyways.

But it scares me a little to think of how much "learned" communication they already have imprinted on their hearts. I'm a screamer (I admit this with much shame and embarassment, really I do.)  I really hate that about myself. And as much as I try to change, and I do.... I still find myself with a raised voice when the kids have really gotten under my skin. I suspect this comes from having a mother who has a very loud voice...

My husband is just a bit on the sarcastic side... I've already noticed my son quickly picking up on his father's tone.... D still calls it "teasing" but I recognize the voice when I hear it. In fact, I just heard it last weekend when I was in Minnesota visiting my in-laws :-)

I try to instill in my children the right values. I tell them to say please and thank you. I tell them to never hit, even when you've been hit first (this is especially important to K & D right now)  I tell them not to use mean words.... but I wonder what I've been teaching them. How often do I say please and thank you to my husband for helping me with something? How often do they hear us using unkind tones with each other?

On Friday, Gibbs leaned over in our van and whispered to me, I see some deer in the field, but I don't want to say anything because I don't think the kids will be able to see them. From the backseat, with a movie on, D asks, Where are the deer daddy??

I fear that they are hearing, and learning, more than we think.

I'm trying to be more of a role model lately. Doing is so much more important than telling. I did know this before I had children, but somehow, sadly, the stakes have never seemed to matter until now.

And, as an unexpected benefit, Gibbs and I are communicating with much more ease as we both use tones, gestures, and words that we would want the kids to learn :-)

1 comment:

  1. It can be totally overwhelming to ponder this, but it's so good that you are doing what you need to do to make some changes. Just think though, that you are learning this now when the kids are little and when they see you learning this, struggling with it, making mistakes and asking for forgiveness....they will see how to overcome their own struggles too! Be encouraged friend!