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Great Grandparenting - Part 4

Updated on October 23, 2012

"You are" and "Birthright" statements

When we use presuppostions with our grandchildren (and any other persons we want to influence for good), we are 'supposing' in advance the kind of individual we know they can become [not merely who we'd like them to be, but who they really are - or have the potential to become - at the core of their personality]. So, we look for that small 'something,' that kernel of truth in a person that is praiseworthy and laudable, and we emphasize that rather than less desirable traits.

There's something good in everyone. All we need do is identify and encourage that part of their personality. Here are two ways of doing that, by how we speak.

First, there are "you are" presuppositions. These short, declarative sentences tell the person directly what kind of person we see them to be. When these are said 'straight,' without exaggeration, especially when they are said by a grandparent or other adult to a child, they have enormous power. Consider these examples:

"You are a good learner."

"You are interested in lots of things."

"You are a person I can trust."

"You are the salt of the earth." [Jesus said that one!]

Second, there are "birthright statements."

"You were born to be successful."

"You've been alert and intelligent from the day you were born."

"That curiosity has been a part of you from birth."

Notice that each of these comments builds on a positive aspect of the person, and that there is no 'over-sell' here. The child (person) who hears this kind of sentence can't help but take it in and begin to believe it, even if a part of him or her still doubts that it's true. All we're attempting to do here is plant the seed: 'Gee, maybe I can learn well.' . . . 'Gee, maybe I've always been like this.'

Write out a few "you are" or "birthright" statements of your own that connect with a grandchild (or your own child or spouse). Then try one of your statements out on them and watch what happens.

More to come in the "Part 5" article.

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