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In some way, we are influenced by those we meet along life’s journey, and in particular, we are highly influenced by our parents and family members. If we think about how we were brought up, we probably note that many of the things that our parents taught us have been carried forward and we are still utilizing some of them today.

It can work quite the opposite as well. Because of some of the ways we were influenced we are determined NOT to bring forward some of these influences. In some cases we were influenced by our parents in a very challenging way (I refuse to use the word “negative”) and now because of these, we teach or influence our children differently. We should be thankful that we have learned from these lessons as our children benefit from these.

In many cases the foundation of our attitude and belief structures were put in place in our formative years and we have hopefully adapt these throughout our lives. If we were loved and felt warmth and compassion from our parents, most likely we are comfortable in our own skin. We move forward with confidence and with fewer internal challenges than some others who may have experienced little or no love and affection. It is important to remember though that love and affection can be shown in many different ways however.

There are conflicting articles as to the most impressionable years of a child’s development – some say the first five years, some say the first seven years and yet others same from six to 14. Apparently, all years are important to provide a positive influence on our children and their development.

Do we teach our children through fear or do we teach them through love? This question may seem ridiculous to most of us but certainly one that needs to be contemplated. What example are we setting?

So many parents teach their children to engage their minds but equally important, are we teaching them to engage their hearts? If they learn to respect and love themselves, they will be able to love and respect others.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” - Frederick Douglass

Even though we are influenced by our upbringing, when we reach the age of self awareness, we are free to choose and mold our own personal responses to life. We are free to change any aspect of ourselves and nothing from our past has to be adopted as our own. If our upbringing was less than ideal, we can accept our past as that (our past) and we can move forward and leave it where it belongs, in the past.

Once we reach the stage of self awareness we realize that we are responsible for whom we are. No one has control over us unless we hand over that control to them. Sometimes we just need to look back to see and understand what took place and by doing so, we realize that we can make any change we want to.

Yes, our parents have an influence and can provide us with a good foundation but with self awareness if that foundation makes you feel less than perfect, we have the choice of pouring new footings and building your own foundation.

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