The concept of education can be understood in the narrower and broader sense of the word. In a broader sense, upbringing consists of all those environmental factors that in some way influence the formation of a young personality. If the concept of upbringing is taken in the broadest sense, then it should include all environmental factors that have been described so far, i.e. the personality of educators, their general behavior in life, their relationships, their emotional attitude towards the child; there are also the social circumstances in which the child develops, the way it is educated, the mentality and the cultural level of the environment in which it grows up.
But for practical purposes it is useful to understand the concept of education in a narrower sense. It then encompasses only the educator’s direct actions with the child, their conscious or unconscious reactions to the young person’s behavior, their advice and reprimands, their demands, instructions, and prohibitions. When the term upbringing is used in such a limited sense, it is easier to talk to people.
Then parenting advice from parents and other educators may be more specific and not fade into all possible environmental factors that educators sometimes cannot manage.
Each educator treats the child in a certain way, which is more or less maintained throughout the entire educational process. When they begin to raise a child, whether their own or someone else’s, the educator usually does not think much about how they will do it, but automatically take a certain position. Their educational process contains, however, many general features that are common to a large number of educators; but it also carries within it the specific features of the educator’s personality, so it has the stamp of a certain individuality.
These facts indicate that the manner of raising a child is intimately related to the overall personality of the educator and arises from their mental structure. The educational process is by no means an accidental or superficial phenomenon in the behavior of an adult. It is the product of deeply inbuilt attitudes towards people and towards oneself, the result of many years of life experiences and worldviews. The way of educating is largely an expression of the emotional life of the educator. Its sources should not be sought only in the consciousness of the educator, in their knowledge, in the fruits of their systematic thinking. The educational process is to a much greater extent an expression of the unconscious spheres of the human personality, the product of various and even ancient experiences that the current psychic contents have long since pushed out of the sphere of consciousness.
If one wants to understand the motives of one’s actions with a child, one must get to know their whole personality. The manner of upbringing will certainly be in accordance with the conduct of that man in other areas of life. If it does not seem to be the case, then we have not discovered the true motive of the educational procedure, or we have not sufficiently known the essence of the educator’s personality, but we are deceived by various illusions in their behavior. Thus a man who sincerely loves no one, who has never been emotionally warm to anyone, cannot be that way with his child either. If it is portrayed as such after all, then it is conscious or unconscious acting; if he is constantly talking about a supposedly great love for a child, then he is either deceiving himself or simply lying.
Emotional settled, healthy personalities are usually also good educators. Their mental health is largely a consequence of the proper upbringing they received in their own childhood. By identifying with this upbringing, they imitate them in relation to their own child, so without much conscious effort in supervising their actions, they raise it in the right way. Neurotic personalities experience various emotional conflicts in their attitude towards the child. In dealing with it, they seek to satisfy their unfulfilled ambitions or seek satisfaction for life’s disappointments. Once to a child, they show their aggression, even sadistic tendencies; other times they abuse it as a means of revenge on someone or as an object of satisfying one’s own vanity. Such people often make the same mistakes as their parents did. Or they try to turn the actions of their parents, because of which they suffered as children and still suffer now, into their opposite. But even then they usually fall into grave misconceptions about upbringing, only giving them the opposite sign than their parents gave them. Thus, people who were brought up in a very strict way in childhood, try to provide their child with “completely different”, “the most beautiful childhood”, and pamper it to the extreme. And those to whom educators were too lenient and now suffer because of their psychological irresistibility, are happy to introduce a “firm hand regime” into their children’s upbringing, which means that they become too rigid, cold and relentless towards them.
The educational process is, in part, the result of learning, that is, conscious thinking about educational problems. The more intelligent and emotionally organized the educator is, the more they will benefit from studying educational methods. This is manifested in the change of their educational procedures, which are gradually becoming more and more perfect. Such a man is ready to receive advice and instruction regarding the upbringing of a child and will gladly apply them as much as he can.
A less intelligent or neurotic educator reacts differently. They are rigid and inflexible in dealing with the child. They learn little from their educational experience, are skeptical of reasonable advice, reluctant to change their actions, are uncritical of themselves, and do not think that anything should be changed in their educational methods. However, they easily fall under the influence of similar neurotic personalities, which lead them to even more serious mistakes in raising a child.
We once talked to a father who listened to us carefully as we explained to him the futility of physically punishing a child who had become completely listless and depressed as a result, and even failed at school. When we were done, the father shrugged and calmly said, “Still, good beatings are the best cure for laziness.”
And one mother stated, after an extensive interpretation, that cuddling and serving are detrimental to the mental development of her son:
“I know it’s true, everything is as you say, but I still have to cuddle him because I love him madly.”
Such and similar statements by neurotic educators are an expression of their rigid and sick attitude towards the child. At the same time, they are a sign of their resistance to any change in the educational process, and this significantly hinders the mental development of their children.
The influence of upbringing in the narrower sense of the word – and in that sense we will use this term constantly – on the shaping of a child’s personality, should neither be overestimated nor underestimated. It would be wrong to claim that upbringing is an omnipotent factor in a child’s mental development. Sometimes it is opposed by the innate characteristics of the child, and even a certain individuality of its personality, which is impossible to determine more closely. These factors – often unknown – should be taken into account in a child’s personality, so one should not create illusions that a proper upbringing can always achieve a completely healthy development of a young personality. Proper upbringing makes such a development of the child’s psyche very likely, but not necessary. It should be borne in mind that the development of a child is always influenced by more educators. None of them, no matter how properly they treated the child, can be absolutely sure that the other will not spoil their job.
However, education has done a lot to form a child’s personality, both in a positive and in a negative sense. It is therefore wrong to assume that it is essentially secondary how a child is treated, because that it will develop according to its natural inclinations anyway, and not in the way the environment will affect it . Everyday experience teaches us that the proper educational process of most educators, especially those that are first and most important- parents – ensures that the young person will develop into a positive, socially useful person. On the contrary, when we have before us a sick, deformed personality, the main reason for its deformation is always a wrong upbringing throughout childhood and adolescence.
There are some general laws in raising a child. Upbringing leaves a deeper mark on a child’s personality the younger the child. Its effect on the child is stronger the longer it lasts, i.e. the longer and more intensive the contact of the same educator with the child. The rule is that every adult who is in a slightly longer contact with a child, inevitably takes on the role of educator, even when they do not want to. That is why the responsibility for the development of a young personality cannot be avoided by anyone who deals with the child in any way.