The social learning theory states social behavior is learned primarily by observing and imitating the action of others. As a parent every action your child perceives, he or she will exhibit or respond to.
Many adults are unaware how their parents may have possibly stunted their growth. Take me for instance; for years I struggled with the fear of feeling neglected and unimportant but could not understand why.
My father, who is conservative, a Christian and well-rounded, is a busy man. My mother, however, is on the opposite side of the spectrum. She is eccentric, eclectic and a free-spirited woman. A woman who made sure she was very active in her children lives. I am a weird combination of both.
My father relocated to Miami, following his split with my mom. I was primarily raised in New York with my mom, but spent my summers, holidays, etc. jet setting between Miami and New York. It was always a battle: Miami Nicolette vs. New York Nicolette.
New York Nicolette is responsible. She is the center of attention, free-spirited, adventurous, but disciplined. Miami Nicolette is bratty, irresponsible, feels invisible and could not comprehend why she flew nearly 1,100 miles to feel invisible.
My dad is a business owner, which means he is always busy. In and out of meetings, business calls— the whole enchilada. His first priority is his business. Any successful businessman understands that. However, an adolescent girl does not. Growing up I never felt like a priority. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones (so to speak). He never missed a graduation and he showered me with lavish gifts. Yet, spending quality time was where we lacked. He worked long hours to be able to provide the gifts I loved. All I could see was the time we did not share, which left me feeling neglected, ignored and unimportant. I’m sure my father believed showering me with gifts was a lovely substituted for not being able to spend quality time together.
My mother is a fashionista. She is creative, expressive and far from judgmental. More importantly she made time. We have an amazing relationship and she did a remarkable job of instilling confidence and a high self-esteem.
Here is this girl, who is confident, self-assured, goal-oriented, spoiled, yet battling the fear of never being a priority in a man’s life. Those feelings of neglect and not learning to positively express myself to the first man in my life left me battling those fears with prospective love interests.
I’m positive I am not the first daughter to endure these feelings and I surely will not be the last. I do know it took me years to actually assess my feelings and a few more years to learn to address it appropriately. A child who struggles with neglect handles the issue in one of two ways: shut down or rebel. I exhibited a little bit of both. Some years I would not speak, while other years I would do things that would raise my father’s blood pressure. My behavior was how I responded to my father.
Parents who struggle to understand why their child behaves in a particular manner should first assess their role. During a sermon at Christian Cultural Center (CCC) pastor A.R. Bernard stated, “Violence and crime are symptoms and until you deal with the cause the symptoms will continue to occur.” This can equally be applied to your child. Behavior is your child’s response to his or her environment. If one feels invisible one will respond as such. Understandably there is no manual for parenthood, but whatever you do (or do not do) there will be an equal response (positive or negative).
Though I am not a parent, I have years of experience of being a daughter. A child, no matter the sex, must feel important. It is essential your child not only knows he or she is important, but also you make the quality time to demonstrate that. Remember actions speak louder than words (and lavish gifts).
Every sheep needs a good Shepherd.