The earliest years of our lives are important in many ways, including how they affect our health. Neighborhood resources, education, family income and other economic and social factors affect how children develop and grow, and the subsequent adult life. Most of the characteristics we like or don’t like ourselves get formed during childhood. Such characteristics can prove to be very hard to reverse or change during our adult years of life. One reason as to why behaviors acquired during childhood can be difficult to change is because we do them naturally. Many people are not aware of these behaviors and do them naturally. They become our habits, deeply established within our mind. In reference to the short stories Salvation by Langston Hughes, Graduation by Maya Angelou and Once more to the Lake by E. B. White, this essay discusses the ways in which childhood experiences influence people’s lives during adulthood.
Contrary to popular belief, children do not inherit personalities but instead acquire certain traits as a consequence of the experiences that they pass through life. Our experiences in childhood determine our personality and behavior in adulthood without our awareness of the occurrence of this connection. For example, a child brought up in a conservative family is likely to develop insecurities and fear because of the belief that the world is unsafe. As an adult, he or she will still have these insecurities and fears but will show then in a different manner. In addition, children like to feel a sense of belonging, and will feel insecure when they are different from others. Shame and fear of exclusion as influence son behavior are shown in Langston’s Salvation, in which he pretended to have seen Jesus because he feared being the odd one out. He writes that: “Now it was really getting late. I began to be ashamed of myself, holding everything up so long……..So I decided that maybe to save further trouble, I’d better lie, too, and say that Jesus had come, and get up and be saved” (Hughes, 2009).
When we are young, we get experiences from our surrounding, particularly from teachers and parents whom we associate with frequently. As we grow older, we take responsibility of our own experiences. But because our experiences are tied to our surrounding and the people we associate with, we tend to display traits similar to those found in the locality where we live. Children who acquire bad experience are more likely to develop bad character traits while those who have good e experiences are more likely to develop good character traits. Parents are the role models for most children. Children will therefore tend to emulate what their parents do, and prefer their parent’s preferences. However as is the common knowledge, not all parents are the same. All parents have different levels of confidence, self esteem, self worth and optimism. Each of these attributes influence how parents bring up their children, and consequently the character of the children.
As we grow up, we grow every other aspect of our life including how we relate with others. We consider our parent’s friends our friends and our parent’s enemies our enemies. Even in adulthood when we become independent, our perception of life rarely changes from that during childhood. Once our characters are formed during childhood, not much change occurs in the course of an individual’s life. Because of education and many other new things that we come across during our life, certain principle that we believe in during childhood changes slightly but we keep the basic beliefs. In Maya Angelous’s The Graduation, the author narrates the kids anticipation for a graduation ceremony, stating that they were “trembling visibly with anticipation” (Angelou, 2009). This sense of awe is similar to our experiences in adulthood when we undertake something very important to our lives, such as marriage or a wedding.
Childhood experiences create the base for future adulthood accomplishments. For example, children born I poverty usually work hard to escape poverty and live a life different from that which their parent lived. In this case, childhood experiences plays and important role to motivate individuals to maintain good childhood experiences or change bad ones. Children who grow up believing that education is the way out of poverty will try hard to excel in their school work in the hope living a better life in future. Similarly, children brought up in well off families tend to follow their parents footsteps by engaging in economic and social activities that help to maintain their status.
One of the most studies childhood experiences is the trauma and depression in children. Research have shown that childhood trauma and depression result from physical abuse or neglect by parents or guardians. As E. B. White writes in Once More to the Lake, “It is strange how much you can remember about places like that once you allow your mind to return into the grooves which lead back” (White, 1941). As such, children who undergo physical abuse form their parents are, in most cases, traumatized for most of their lives. It is highly likely that such children can become hostile to their parents or to their peers. This trait may be carried on throughout childhood and into adult life.
While it is true that our childhood experiences play an important role our life, our genetic make up also help to shape our personality both at childhood and adulthood. Certain traits that we display are inscribed in our genes, and are as such not controlled by environmental factors.
In most cases, childhood experiences affect greatly how people think and behave in their adult ages. The relationship between childhood experiences and adult lie is a course-and-effect situation. Therefore, if you want to choose your desired life, then you nee d to consider the course needed to get that effect.
Most of the diseases that we develop in our adult ages have significant relationship with life experiences during childhood. For example, it has been proven that children who engage in demanding physical activities or child labor experience medical complications as a consequence. Infectious diseases like polio or rheumatic fever were for a long time considered as a medical link between adult diseases and childhood events. According to research, most childhood-relate adult diseases are as a consequence of chronic stress during childhood. Such stress is believed to be responsible for coronary diseases such as high blood pressure and diseases of the heart.
Certain adulthood issues such promiscuity and teenage pregnancies are consequences of childhood experiences. Children who are sexually abused are more likely to become immoral and portray a different attitude towards sex in their adult age. For example, children who are sexually abuse are more likely to engage in such sexual activities as homosexuality, teenage sex and many other sexual vices. Although these characteristics are usually considered to be biomedical outcomes, they are highly related to childhood physiological experiences.
Generally, how we do things, relate with other people, and perceive life is related to how we were brought up. Children act the way people in their locality act, and they do this until adulthood. Although not most children behave the same way throughout their entire life, even their perceived new characteristics are simply variations of the characteristics that they acquire during childhood.
Childhood is an important stage in the life of human beings because it is during this period that most of the personality is developed. Because of this reality, most parents bar their children from engaging in activities that are not morally accepted. While most parent do this to correct their children, they actually shapethe personality of their children and so is their children’s adult life.
In conclusion, the influence of childhood experiences is powerful. These influences are long-lasting and capable of adversely affecting our adult life. Most of the problems facing adults today are as a consequence of emotional traumas originating from childhood experiences. These trauma resulting from childhood experiences are generally unappreciated and, as such. Most people are not aware of them.