By Heather O.
We talk about Belief Windows sometimes in my family, mostly because my dad wrote a book with that title in it somewhere a zillion years ago. I’d like to say I read the book, but I didn’t. I’m a bad daughter.
But, as I understand it, it’s just a way of defining how we view the world. We put on our lenses of our own beliefs, and look at the world through the lenses. It’s the idea that we all define our own reality, because we bring to our own reality our own sets of beliefs and experiences. The idea is that we can change our belief windows, and thus change our realities, our attitudes, our actions, our life path, whatever.
For example, I have 5 siblings–3 sisters, 2 brothers. 3 of us have blonde hair. 3 of us do not. It’s not all that surprising, really, given that my mother was blonde as a child, and my father was not. Genetics. They’re fun.
I have blonde hair. I have always had blonde hair. I now pay for it to be that color (because really there is not a hair color less attractive than what can only be accurately described as dirty dishwater), but all growing up, and even in college, I was unquestionably a blonde. And despite having married a redhead who came from a family of brunettes, my children both have ridiculously light blonde hair.
My sister is not a blonde. She never has been. She has dabbled with different hair colors in her life, including getting almost sort of close to blonde, and has now settled on a nice darker auburn-ish shade that fits her skin tone very nicely. Her three children are all brunettes.
My mother claims all her children are blonde.
It’s silly, really, because there is photographic proof, dating back to when we were all very young, that disputes her claim. And yet she says she has never given birth to a brunette. My sister finally called her on it, saying that my mother has a belief window that only blondes are beautiful, thus her children must have been blondes. My sister accused my mother of thinking brunettes are less attractive than blondes. My mother disagreed, saying of course brunettes are beautiful too, but her belief window is that all of her children are blonde.
Reality vs. Belief Window clash. Which one will win?
I was thinking about this because I have to put my daughter’s hair up in a “ballet bun” for her ballet performance this weekend, and it involves using a hair net, something that never entered in my own ballet performance experience. Also, Little Sister has only now begun to look like somebody didn’t take a weed whacker to her hair after the Very Unfortunate Hair Cut of last summer, and putting her short hair into a bun is going to be a tricky. So, I googled “ballet bun”, and came across a very nice video of a mom doing her daughter’s hair. Her daughter is a beautiful little girl with gorgeous, dark brown hair. Her mother stressed the importance of getting hair accessories that matched, and held up a BLONDE hair tie. She said that since her daughter’s hair is strawberry blonde, this hair tie matches nicely. She then put it in her daughter’s hair, and IT DIDN’T MATCH AT ALL. This girl was a beautiful little girl, but strawberry blonde she was not.
Reality vs. Belief Window clash.
I’ve seen other parents do this. A mom at preschool who calls her son “gentle and tender-hearted”, even he hit kids on the playground and throws sand in their faces. Another mom who says that her son is “shy and quiet”, even as he shouts insults at my kid. Another mom who worries that her daughter is a “follower”, even as she bosses other children around. Friends who are teachers tell me that parents wear blinders about their children all the time, and that it’s sad when the only person who is surprised when a kid goes off the deep-end is the parent who refused to believe that her kid was capable of self-destructive behavior.
Reality vs. Belief Window Clash.
We do this about ourselves, too. I know talkers who say they are good listeners. I know idle people who claim they live an active lifestyle. I know fat people who claim they are thin, thin people who claim they are fat, rude people who think they are kind, kind people who agonize because they are not doing enough. And women probably do it more than men, but I could just think that because I talk to more women than men.
But mothers, we are the worst.
Do you think it’s possible to see our children for who they really are? I think we do them a disservice when we try to make them into something they are not, like telling a brunette she is really a strawberry blonde, because what message does that tell to the girl who knows what she really is? If we see our children for who they really are, we can help them in their actual struggles, not the struggles we make up, or wish they had, or wish they didn’t have. Is it possible to rewrite our beliefs when it comes to the most important people in our lives, even if they turn out not to be exactly the kids we thought or wanted them to be? Can we love them anyways, even if they aren’t as gentle as we would like, or hard working as we would like, or successful in the way we had hoped?
At the very least, we should be able to get their hair color right.