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Ever consider all the interesting habits babies inherit from their mothers? Yes, they see and emulate everything we do so we have to be careful. When children are young their brains are like sponges and the habits they see us doing can more easily become ingrained in their little minds. It really is a monkey see, monkey do kind of situation.
But there are two parts to developing habits which are learned behaviors and personality traits which are inherent; nature and nurture. Some habits we are predisposed to have and others are nurtured so you can’t blame mom and dad for every bad habit you have.
What determines if you are going to pick up your parents’ habits depends on your experience and your temperament. Experience is what you’ve learned from interacting with the world and this helps you develop how you feel, think, behave and react to the world.
Your temperament, however, is what you are born with. Your temperament affects how you experience the world; your intensity, sensitivity and your overall internal mood.
We absorb habits based on both. Sometimes our temperament makes us more likely to pick up certain habits of moms.
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Do you obsess over certain things? Are you frightened of flying? Do you worry about everything and stress yourself out? Or are you carefree? Are you able to let things roll off of your back? Do you take things in stride and not sweat the small thing? If so, you probably learned these habits from your parents.
Yes, they could have genetically passed down some anxiety but seeing how they react under pressure will teach a small child how to behave in those same circumstances. Maybe mom was cool as a cucumber and didn’t let anything get under her skin, maybe that’s the laid back habit you inherited.
By watching how a parent responds to potential threats, a child learns what is dangerous and how to respond to this danger.
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Most people learn how to spend, save and invest money from watching their parents. We mirror our parents’ financial decisions because they teach us by example from the earliest age.
If you saw your parents making impulsive financial decisions, chances are you might too. In fact, impulsivity can be a genetic trait passed down from parent to child. But maybe you saw your parents being diligent savers and making wise financial decisions, chances are that you too will have learned that. If your parents could stretch a dollar, chances are that you learned that special skill from them too.
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Did you know that picky eating is actually linked to a genetic factor that influences one’s willingness to try and eat new foods? It’s called neophobia. Depending on your genetic factors, some foods might taste off to you. Some foods that other people love might taste bitter to you causing you to avoid eating those foods.
However, did you know that by watching your parents eat, while you’re a child, you see what they eat? You notice their openness and willingness to try new things, or not, and children mimic that behavior. Some parents try everything and it’s likely that their children will do the same. Other parents eat the same things all the time and your kids see that too.
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How you manage stress and how you react to stressful situations, even the things that stress you out, are often learned behaviors from your parents. So if mom counted to ten before reacting to stressful situations, chances are you will too. If you saw mom hulk out and fly into a blind rage, you may do the same. Perhaps, stress caused mom to shut down and run away and hide from the world, maybe you do the same. The point is whatever mom did, you’ve seen and probably do too. This is one of those habits that moms pass down.
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Learning about money and developing habits about money is about more than just spending habits, it’s about the way we look at money. The things we believe about money. For example, feeling guilty about spending money on things that aren’t absolutely necessary, or spending money at all, even when you have plenty. Some people believe that having money is bad while others hoard all of their money away for a rainy day. The great thing is that no matter how weird we are about money, we don’t have to be. We just need to decide to change those notions and figure out where those ideas stem from.
We learn how to live in the world as children. This is when who we will become is developing. When you were small, perhaps your parents told you to be seen and not heard or to let your siblings have a chance in the spotlight, if you’re from a big family, you know what I’m talking about.
Maybe your parents encouraged you to not speak your mind to keep the peace or play it safe and live your life modestly. More likely that is what you saw them doing. When you grow up, you find that you’re holding yourself back.
Or maybe your parents were go-getters who taught you that you could do and be anything you wanted in life and that’s what they did. They went for it. They were all in. They were fearless in their pursuit of happiness and now so are you.
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This is a weird one because one would think that feeling and the expression of those feelings would be natural and not necessarily a habit. Apparently, if you grow up in a house where feelings are pushed down and pushed aside, you learn to put your feelings aside. Not everyone tells you every feeling they are having. If you have issues expressing your feelings with other people, maybe mom did too.
Similarly, if mom was a big talk through your feelings, express yourself and tell people that you love them every single day, you are probably the same. Thank goodness for free will because whatever habits we learn from our parents we can change them if we want to.
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There is no doubt that children learn to have a similar sense of humor to their parents. If mom has a jovial personality and a lighthearted way of looking at life, chances are that you will see her relaxed demeanor and not take things so seriously. Perhaps mom is a little more uptight and takes things personally, you may also get offended by certain kinds of humor.
Just like if mom really loves infantile humor like toilet humor or overly humorous movies like Airplane or Blazing Saddles, you probably grew up with an appreciation for that kind of humor and you will carry that through your life. Maybe your mom had a very dry and sophisticated sense of humor and you too are witty and sarcastic and that’s okay too. Be who you are and laugh as much as possible.
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If your parents were poor at communicating with you or with each other you might struggle with this same affliction. Children see how their parents communicate with the world on a microscale at home. However, just because mom and dad are loud and obnoxious doesn’t mean that the child will be loud and obnoxious. Just like if two parents are quiet and shy, that in no way means that the child will be quiet and shy.
Children learn how to communicate in the world, not only by their parent's example but also by figuring out how to get their needs met. If a child needs to speak up to get what they need, they will learn to speak up in the world to get what they need.
If you watched mom and dad fighting all the time, you might not have a clue what a healthy relationship looks like. Our parents are our role models in relationships and by watching them interact with one another, this is how we learn to engage and handle the good times and the bad times in our own relationships. For example, when things got tough did your parents turn on one another out of frustration or did they band together to get through all of life’s hard times? Did their relationship look conditional and you felt like it was always rocky? That could make a child feel unstable and unsafe. Likewise, if your parents were in a loving, committed relationship in which communication and respect were the rocks upon which they built their life, you will learn that habit too.
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Did you ever see your parent apologize to one another when they were wrong? Did they ever apologize to you if they made a mistake? Admitting that you’re wrong is hard, especially to someone who looks up to you. You want to be flawless.
Or maybe your parents freely admitted their mistakes to one another and apologized if they were wrong. Did your parents tell you that they were sorry if they accidentally blamed you for something your sister did? Taking responsibility for behaviors that hurt others or mistakes made sets a good example for your children because they learn that there is no big catastrophe that will happen if you admit you were wrong. Owning your flaws makes you human not a bad person.
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How did your parents handle disagreements with each other or with you? Did they get mad? Sullen? Did they storm off? Did they stay and fight it out? How did they cool off? Did they count to ten or did they need to be alone? Whatever a kid sees at home becomes the bar with which they measure their own reactions. For example, if your parents get into passionate screaming matches over money or dole out the passive-aggressive silent treatment when someone forgets to change the toilet paper roll, you will learn this habit of how to deal with conflict in your own relationships.
They get it from their mama. Maybe this begins in utero when our bodies are in sync. Or maybe it happens when they are newborns and we are sleeping when they sleep? Either way, babies of moms who are insomniacs are more likely to have sleep issues.
Maybe always seeing mom stay up late nights doing all the things, these children begin to think 2 a.m. is a normal bedtime for everyone and that’s how it begins. Maybe knowing that mom is up trying to have some quiet time is alluring to little minds? Or maybe this is just what they think is normal because it’s all they’ve ever known? Either way, if your mama was an insomniac you might be too.
Most people choose the easy way in life while others choose to face every challenge in pursuit of their dreams. These are the people who have realized that everything you want is on the other side of fear. Is this genetic or do we learn this habit of facing our fears from our mamas? We watch our moms from the day we are born. We see them stick up for us over and over again and we learn from them how to make our way in the world. If we see our moms make sacrifices and choices to achieve their goals in life, even if it is a lot of hard work and maybe it's scary, we learn the worth of facing life’s challenges.
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Recently, research has confirmed that a child’s intelligence is determined by their mother’s genes. Intelligence is carried via the X chromosome. Moms carry two X chromosomes while dad’s carry one, making moms twice as likely to genetically pass on their intelligence to their babies.
However, being intelligent and making intelligent decisions are not just genetics. We learn from the environment we are raised in. We see our moms carefully considering their options, weighing the outcomes and approaching life from a rational point of view. We see them using their mind rather than just their emotions and we learn to do the same.
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Is your mom the kindest person you’ve ever met? Ever notice that some people are infinitely kinder than others? There are people in the world who genuinely go out of their way to be nice and spread kindness to other people. These are the people who wave to strangers, hold doors for the elderly and smile when they see someone looking down.
Kindness is a choice. We learn the habit of choosing kindness by watching the people closest to us from the moment we are born. We see them being kind and the effect it has on others and we want that too.
The only way to make sure that our babies adopt our habits or avoid them is to be aware of our behavior in front of them.