A father standing in line at a local grocery store is bagging the groceries. Mother has thrown their three-year-old daughter a nasty look after loudly chastising her for lying on the floor at the check-out stand. The mother realizes that her younger child wants to use the restroom, grabs the daughter by the wrist, drags her over to the husband, and drops her on the floor, mumbling about "…taking the kid to the potty." Father continues with the bagging, while the daughter lies on the ground. Father looks at her and says, "You're a bad girl, a bad girl."

Something is not right. It seems that people too often do not understand the task set before them. It seems that all too often parents are thinking of themselves rather than their child. This may seem like a good idea to them, but it does little for a child's future. You may often imagine your child's future and think of a good neighborhood, big house, big car, and maybe college. Yet, it is our influence from the very beginning that is all important. We effect the child's internal construction of life through his outer senses, where your child absorbs all of the impressions and sensations around him. Thus, it does not take an exceptional income to provide an infant with a good environment. Whether a parent is wealthy or in good social position is of no consequence to the child. What is of consequence is the atmosphere which is surrounds him. His few needs and the spirit in which these needs are met by his caregivers have an immediate and far-reaching effect upon him as he is totally dependent on the good sense of those people in charge of his life. Unfortunately, a new life is something with which many are often appallingly careless.

Rather than staying attuned to the child's needs, parents attempt to fit the child into some mechanized idea of childhood. We enforce schedules, push to conform or have no schedule at all offering no stability to the child's life. While we may try to keep our children away from illness, at the same time, we expose him to highly infectious and dysfunctional emotions. Children can easily develop nervousness or anxiety by experiencing the disturbed feelings of those around them. The shock of being jerked up, observing an angry face, or a loud gruff voice will likely leave imprints that will damage something very important in his spirit. Our own sense of confusion and inner tension, which we often try to hide from other adults, is easily felt by your child. If we were of the consequences of our actions on our children, we would likely not behave in such negative ways. Remember, no one thing or combination of things that we secure for the child's later years will compensate in the slightest degree for the neglect of the present. The mother and father, who strive to get ahead in business, all the while postponing the possible deep relationship with each other and the child, deny each other the warm human experiences that can light up each other's life as days go by. Rather than attend to the child joyfully, parents often feel tense or irritated when required to attend to a child, much as the mother at the beginning of this story. Children need to be able to sit in the grass, go the park, visit museums, take naps and walks, and observe the world. Too often, parents are far too busy for those things, but are shuttling their children from day care providers, to social events, to shopping, to sporting event practice, or tutoring.

Without the accurate perception that you must care in the best way for your child, grave damage will be done to this defenseless person in his sensitive and developing years. If the home teaches little in the way of honesty, compassion, goodwill, and trust, where will the child find these ingredients for his own adult relationships? Pursuing petty self-indulgence and comfort at the expense of good parenting, we offer a dreadful lesson to our children. As we teach a child each moment of his life, we need to learn to choose wise actions, actions that will leave positive and loving impressions on the child.

We must understand that caring for a child is a privilege. It is a uniquely rewarding job. If we understand it to be so, the child will sense our course and our goals. Gentle hands, warm and loving faces and affectionate voices hopefully begin the world of the child. Experiences such as above with the child at the grocery store offer only painful memories, injuring the child's ability to survive and inhibiting his child's ability to love. Planning for the future? It is here right now, and it is your child. Choose well.

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