Children learn by example, particularly soft skills such as caring for others, consideration of others’ feelings, love and empathy. They can also learn the opposite by example, so if there is someone in the household showing them that it is okay not to care about others’ feelings, showing them it is okay not to care for the environment, the earth, or the people around them, then they have just as much chance of learning that than of learning love and empathy, even if there is someone in the household who does show it.
If the person who shows inconsideration by example then says “oh, you’re so inconsiderate, can you learn some consideration for others”, it doesn’t work, because they have seen inconsideration for others from this person, and all they will learn then is that it is okay to be a hypocrite.
Children don’t use the words which adults use to describe feelings and actions. Often adults don’t use words to describe feelings and actions. It is entirely plausible that an adult who grew up in an environment where very little emotion and empathy was ever shown to them, will become an adult who doesn’t show emotion and empathy. This translates then to a lack of skill in classifying what these things are.
They may not realise, for example, that when they say “don’t shake the homeless person’s hand when you give them cake, they are very dirty and often have pee on them” is a very very negative response to the kid wanting to do an amazing, beautiful and caring act. The child then learns that being caring gets a negative response, and learns to stop caring. It could have been phrased very differently. If the adult was worried about hygiene, they could have said to bring some baby wipes or alcohol gel along and to clean up afterwards if they don’t feel comfortable. But by dismissing the kindness of the act, and labelling it with negativity instead, the child will learn the negativity rather than the positivity, if there isn’t another influence with the action which changes it back to a positive.
Similarly, a throaway comment of, “I don’t like drinking tap water, they are bad for my kidneys” buys bottled water in for the kids and himself to drink… the children will learn that it is okay to care for themselves, but not for their host, whose flat they are living in, and whom they should be encouraged to care for. The host becomes someone whose role is to be there ‘for’ them, to ‘serve’ them, to provide accommodation, and not a human being to have consideration for.
If an adult who doesn’t read, teaches the children to only buy brand new pristine books, but then don’t teach them to value the books afterwards, whether physically, or the content – what will the children learn? That the outside of the book is more valuable than the inside? That it is okay to deface beautiful things? Are they meant to be buying books for content, or for pristine dust jackets?
An adult who doesn’t have any consciousness of what they are teaching their children can be very very bad for the emotional development of the child. It doesn’t matter what the adult says, it is usually what the adult does which matters.
The children will not learn consideration for others, if they constantly see inconsideration around them. In the long run, people who grow up in in these environments don’t even have consideration for their family members. It will be therre for show. A sort of lip service – doing what they “should”. But it isn’t real. It is a charade of “looking after one’s own”, but not a genuine feeling of care. The cycle then repeats, with the next generation growing up not knowing what consideration of others mean. Only that they must behave a certain way around certain people, but people who fall outside their class need not be cared about.
It is quite possible that they may end up in the cut throat business world – and be successful. However if they are not cut out for that world, they might end up with issues later in life. It is emotionally dysfunctional, and I am extremely worried for my nibblings. I will try my very very best to show them a different way to live, but with such limited access to them, and with their father providing such a strong example of how not to care for people outside their social circle – I do not have much hope and all I can do is to cry in silence.