Monday, October 17, 2011

Part 1 "Upbringing: The Innocence of a Child"

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
Proverbs 22:6

I have tried to keep this short. I have cut 6 pages off already. As my hero John Wayne would say "I am the one that goes around the mountain when ya could have cut through the pass." Sometimes it takes me eight pages to say what most could say in a paragraph. There is so much I want to say about this subject that touches my heart. 

When I was thinking upon this subject the title kept coming into my mind. The word "upbringing" is to me more of an old fashion word, but when I looked it up, it was exactly what I was thinking:

Upbringing: "The way the child is raised: care and teaching given to a child by parents or other people."

Synonyms: Actions, atmosphere, aura, backdrop, cultivation, culture, education, environment, framework, grounding, history, preparation, qualification, rearing, seasoning, tradition, training.

Of course everyone agrees genetics makes us who we are. Our beloved parents gave us our eyes, hair color, bone structure and much more. From them we also inherited some "traits" that, like it or not, this is who we are. In the one of my posts a few weeks ago "Bipolar - It's In The Genes" I quoted Dr. McMahon as saying: "It has been known for a long time that bipolar disorder and manic depression are the most genetic of all illnesses."

That's a powerful statement. A very sad statement for most of us. But for this page regarding the environment of a child growing up, I am taking all mental illness out of the equation. For this one setting, for arguments sake let's assume both parent(s) and children are mentally normal.

I've combed over sites for weeks reading various researcher's views on what is THE MOST determining factor on how we become who we are: Genetics or Upraising. The results will shock you...many contradict each other. So, I'm going to give you just a little bit of information, and a LOT to think about.

"The nurse gently places the tightly wrapped bundle into my wife's exhausted, but waiting arms. Her forehead was wet with perspiration. She looked down at the little girl she carried inside for almost nine months. There is a "glow" about my wife's face that I have only seen at childbirth. It's indescribable. She softly whispers the little girl's name for the first time outside the womb." 

Scientist have always concluded that before birth the infant learns the "melody" of the mother's voice. Now that melody was reinforced by the actual sound, in the same tone, for the first time outside of the womb. I don't think even scientists can measure the significance of this!

 From that very moment forward begins the process of shaping who the child will become. Even the smallest of things- positive or negative- can result in the make-up and therefore the possible outcome of this child into adulthood. When you think of it that way, it is a HUGE responsibility! Through genes, this little child is a by-product of the mother and father. That part is already completed. Now, the infant's little mind is already starting to build based on the information it is fed.

I would like to quote a segment from the piece: "From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development:

"Like constructing a house, brains are built upon a strong foundation. This starts before birth, and is very important during the first three years of life. Brain cells are the "raw materials" and a child's experience and interactions help build the structure. Heredity determines the basic number of "neurons" (brain nerve cells) the child is born with."

"Before birth, the baby forms trillions neurons and "synapses" (connections between the brain cells) then it needs. At birth, a baby's brain contains 100 billion neurons, roughly as many nerve cells as there are in the Milky Way." 

{Below is one of the points I want to make}

"A child's experience, good or bad, influences the wiring of his/her brain and the connection in their nervous system. Loving interactions with caring adults strongly stimulate a child's brain, causing synapses to grow and existing connections to get stronger. Connections that are used become permanent. If a child receives little stimulation early on, the synapses will not develop, and the brain will make fewer connections."

"Stress can become toxic when a child has frequent or prolonged experiences like abuse or neglect. High levels can cause brain cells to die and reduces the connections between the cells and certain areas of the brain, harming the vital circuits. In other words, the wiring of the house can be severely damaged or wired wrong if a child is exposed to repeated and longtime stress without the assistance of a caring adult."

I hope we get this! It is not hard then for us to come to the conclusion that like a computer, the adage "garbage-in-garbage-out" applies to a child's mind a million times over. What you program in that little but powerful computer as he/she grows up, will give you the results "you" entered. 

I have said many times over a child's mind is like a sponge. It is so true. A sponge will absorb any type of liquid it comes into contact with - good or bad. If you pour a small puddle of pure bottled water down, the sponge absorbs it completely. If you pour a little puddle of toxic poison down, it will absorb it just the same. It does not know the difference. 

As is with the mind of a child. The young mind will absorb, take in, quickly analyze, categorize, and file and label  EVERYTHING it comes into contact with in newly built storage cabinets. At this stage, it has no reason to think "wait a minute, this is not right" because it does not have anything to "compare it to."

If you ever had a computer you have used for years, you know by experience that over time there are so many programs running in the background, the computer's speed gradually slows down. You have thousands of megabytes used from everything you created and saved, file downloads, videos, junk that has been downloaded and not been purged, and all kind of programs that you do not even know about running from sites you have visited. Suddenly, you decide you can do one of two things, First - if you have the savvy to really do it right, you can basically wipe the drive clean and start fresh. Or, you go and buy a new computer - one that has the software, hard drive, programs already loaded - but no information.

Remember when you got the "brand new" computer and turn it on for the first time? It's so exciting! You hurriedly set up new files, download all fresh data, adjusted the settings just the way you like it, put a new favorite screensaver on that you like - it's all new and even has more memory then the "old" one!

Unfortunately, we cannot do that to children's our minds! WE adults; parents or guardians, are totally responsible for what data or images are entered into that precious child's mind. Nothing, no matter how bad we want can undo what has been done. Doctors and scientists have proven that everything felt, seen, and witnessed by a small child may be forgotten as they grow up - hidden so deep the memory may never retrieve - but it can never be erased. It was the material used to build the little structures foundation and will subconsciously be used to grow into a young child, teenager, and adult. 

Think of it this way. I'm in my early 50's. While not considered old by any means think of all the things I have witnessed in just 50 years! Look around at all the changes in history, technology, politics, economy, religion, family values, social values and acceptance... think of all the feelings and emotions I have dealt with: Love, happiness, security, sadness, life, death, decisions, turmoil, success, failures, feelings from safe to threatened; health, pain, loneliness, evil, destruction...think of the millions upon millions of information has entered my mind through the years of what I saw, read and studied. Think of ALL of this and STOP!

You are 9 years old. What of the above have you felt or witnesses? You probably do not remember back before you were five, so your memory is about 4 years long. What is your mind cluttered with? It is fresh...innocent and pure. Empty of all of the above. This it how it should be.

Myself included, what are we putting in our little child's mind? More importantly though - who is feeding it? If a child is out of bed at , and goes to bed at , how much time is spent with just ONE of the parents? Six hours (unlikely), three hours? Whatever it is, subtract that from the 13 hours the child is up and going and then that is your answer as to who is programming the mind of our child. Where was he/she? What type of person(s) was he or she with? Do we REALLY know what they believe, what they are saying to them, teaching them with not only words, but with actions; their perspective of raising children; values; morals and the list goes on and on.

Listen, this sounds like I am saying "we" are not good parents because we are not with our children 24/7, and that's not true because there is no way we can be. Trust me, with raising four daughters I have always said I want to move on 500 acres, put a 20 foot security fence around the entire place and raise them safe. Not only is it impossible, but it would not be fair to them because they deserve to live and enjoy life as we did.

History has proven there are no guarantees that a child raised in a loving, warm, caring home they will turn out "good". I am just saying we have ideas, values, dreams, hopes and prayers that our children will be well, healthy and happy when they are grown up. It's OUR responsibility - or rather our Love - that we give them the start they so richly deserve. 

They are innocent of evil. The cruel, inhumane world as we know does not exist in their world, unless someone, usually the one they look up to or trust the most, lets the poison in. Their minds are getting closer now to the teen years and still like sponges they absorb all their surroundings. They are now more and more surrounded by outside influences. Still not seasoned to recognize true harm and danger, they are susceptible to more than we realize. Hurt, danger, poison can come in the form of many disguises. But they are not aware of them all. Sometimes by instinct they "smell" danger, but may not listen to their heart. Unfortunately, the abuse or neglect often comes from the parents, or a person they trust or look up to. The abuse, once done, can never be repaired.

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
-- Charles R. Swindoll
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Coming Next: Part 2: The "Unspeakable" Word  
I may post a few short titles that will be easy on my mind, or quotes that may help you (they always do me) while I am waiting on my mind clear. The all unpredictable manic cycles that come without warning and vary in degree may prolong the next main post. Writing it will surely affect it, pretty much no doubt will trigger it. 

2 comments:

  1. Very Touching and well written. LOVE the blog, plese keep them coming!

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  2. I am reading your blog for the first time. I like what I see because it comes from the heart.
    It saddens me, though, because it seems that your bipolar 1 is worsening. You must believe that it can be controlled.
    I was diagnosed bipolar 1 back in 1982. Since then I have learnt to manage the disorder. I have not had a bipolar episode since 1997.

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