“I’m turning into my mother!” – Behavioural models

I went out earlier and our neighbour’s dog was barking continuously though not in an annoying way. A couple of 6 yr olds were walking towards me and as they passed by I heard one say in his deepest voice,”That is a baaaad dog.”
I chuckled and then thought about which of his close family members he was modelling with that voice that was clearly not his ‘own’.

In our formative years we spend so much time modelling behaviours from those nearest to us – starting with parents, siblings etc and then as we grow, and our circle of ‘known people’ in our world gets bigger, we start to model more and more people.

Parents still remain the biggest influence, however. And for many mothers with young children, there will come that day – that defining moment – when they say, “I caught myself saying something to my child that my mother once said to me. I can’t believe I’m turning into my mother!”

Of course for some this recognition comes as a startling experience, though it’s as well to remember that these are what go to make up family traits and idiosyncrasies. They don’t mean that she THINKS like her mother. or has every one of her beliefs and values, necessarily. They are behaviours and responses.

We have a family photo of myself, my father and my son (when aged about 5), on the beach and all looking at something in the distance. We are all side by side, standing the same way, holding the identical physical pose. Amusing, yet predictably understandable.

Specialised traits:
My father never used to mimick or use different accents when he spoke, but I can remember discovering (at about 7 or 8) how much people would laugh at impressionists and also discovered that with practice I could do it quite well. (Peter Sellers and Peter Ustinov have a lot to answer for!) The older I became, the better I got. Its now just another part of what I am in behavioural terms. However my son got to model me from a very early age – and consequently he is a master of accents, mimickry and impressionism.

My daughter, although she lapses into ‘other voices’ from time to time, has done far less modelling upon my behaviour. No, her behavioural model has been more her mother – and I guess as time goes on she will continue making occasional discoveries that lead to her saying “I’m turning into my mother!”