Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? It’s a broad concept that explains how we can impact on our families without realizing.
At a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the 80s, Edward Lorenz posed the question: “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” The answer formed the basis of the butterfly effect, a concept that implies we can change the world by simply existing.
Everything you do can have an impact on your family, especially your children. To illustrate, let’s look at 5 lesser known ways you’re influencing your family.
1) Through your relationship with alcohol
Whenever you take a sip of alcohol, your children are watching. This doesn’t mean you need to abstain, but you should try to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol for your children’s sake.
Your children will shape their view of alcohol through your interaction with it.
According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, children are 4 times more likely to develop alcoholism when their parents are alcoholics.
If your behavior conflicts with your rules, your children are more likely to follow your behavior. So, be sure to practice what you preach.
2) Through your self-image and self-worth
Growing up with a parent who hates their own body will have an impact on a child. When you’re constantly putting yourself down, your child may learn to adopt similar behaviors.
But it’s not just how you treat yourself that matters. One study shows that children who have nurturing parents are more likely to have positive self-worth. For girls, the relationship with their mother seems to be most crucial for self-worth. And for boys, it’s their relationship with their father. The study concludes that self-worth is closely related to body image discrepancies. Children who have positive relationships with their parents are more likely to be comfortable in their own skin.
3) Through your relationship with food
A child with one obese parent has a 50 percent chance of being obese, according to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
The link between parental obesity and childhood obesity may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to remember the link when the consequences aren’t as extreme. Maybe you aren’t obese, but you are an emotional eater with an affinity for junk food. Your child is likely to pick up on those patterns in his or her life.
Your relationship with your child may also have some impact on his or her eating patterns later in life. A small study published by the American Psychological Association links eating disorders in college women with feelings of disassociation with their parents.
4) Through your relationship with your significant other
Divorce is never an easy option, but it’s sometimes the best decision for the family. Most children of divorce grow up to be well-adjusted adults. But if you do get divorced, your kids are at least 40 percent more likely to get divorced.
This may be because they grew up with the belief that marriages are disposable, or it may be because they’ve picked up unhealthy habits from one or more parents.
Either way, it’s a good idea to avoid the more serious arguments in front of your children. For their sake and yours, experiment with different conflict resolution styles to find what works best for you and your partner. If you jump straight to yelling, that’s exactly what your child will do.
Whether you realize it or not, your children will learn how to argue or productively handle conflict from you.
5) Through your coping skills
Even the best-adjusted adults sometimes have trouble handling stress. But this is another thing that your kids will pick up by watching you.
If you don’t already have healthy coping mechanisms, it’s time to start working on this.
Work on keeping your anxiety levels down by exercising, practicing yoga or meditating. These are all healthy stress relievers that will help keep you cool when things get tense.
Also, in the moment, you may want to practice breathing exercises instead of showing your kids what a full-blown panic attack looks like. This is as much for your benefit as it is for your child’s.
If you were to go your entire life without actively teaching your child a thing, he or she would still learn a lot from you. In fact, they learn better from our examples than they do from our words.
Try to set an example that you can be proud of, and your children will learn great habits.
Author’s Bio: Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer who has a passion for writing. He’s written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies and is currently writing for JourneyPure Bowling Green. In his free time, you can find him running with his dog, playing his guitar or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.