Martha explains how children mimic the way their parents treat themselves.


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Martha Beck Explains How Children Learn from What They See
Martha explains to Wendy that if she wants her son's forgiveness, she must first forgive herself. "Our children model what we do to ourselves, not what we do to them. So if you see unforgiveness in his eyes, it's because you're not forgiving yourself," Martha says. "Your only job is to learn to love yourself. The children, that's all they're waiting for you to do."

According to Martha, a mother who lives her life well is going to have happier children. "Let me tell you my favorite story from a psychiatrist who spent 20 years dealing with neurotic patients. They'd always say, 'I know my mother loved me, but...,' and then they'd go into the problems," she says. "One day she met a really, really healthy man, and she thought, 'Gee, I wonder what a normal person's mother is like?' She never heard that. ... She thought he would say, 'My mother loved me perfectly. She made no mistakes at all.' Instead, he said something she had never heard before from a patient. He said, 'My mother loved life.'"

Martha says parents who neglect to love themselves raise kids who don't show themselves self-love, either. "They don't treat themselves the way you treat them. They treat themselves the way you treat you," she says.

"When she said that in order for me to live my best life, that's going to show him, that was incredible for me, because I never looked at it that way," Wendy says.