“Fake it until you make it” is a popular catchphrase that helps people to fake confidence before they actually get it. It is not only applicable for confidence in corporate sector. It can also be used for any situation. By any, I mean any.
During the stages of physical and emotional abuse in my marriage, every time I saw my kid, his future dangled above his head with a huge question mark. Fear gripped me from head to toe thinking about what kind of person my son will grow up to be. When the main role model in the family was an abuser inside and out, what can I expect my son to learn from him? Eyes are the windows of the soul. I truly believe that. My fear affected my son as well. He felt the pain, and distanced himself from me, which again added more fear to my reservoir.
Then I came to know about this concept of “fake smiling”. It says that even if future seems doomed, even if it looks as if the whole life is ruined, even if the whole foundation is shook, every time you see your kid, if you cannot bring yourself to smile genuinely, then fake-smile. Small or big, smiling creates and amicable relationship between you and your children. They find you more approachable and hence feel relaxed enough to be positively influenced by you. I decided to try that method.
I started fake-smiling. Every time I looked at my son, I forced a grin, sometimes a lips-only-smile. I knew it was not genuine and complete bogus. But my son did not know that. He started relaxing around me and experiencing his toddler years. Happily chasing butterflies instead of feeling dejected or guilt that he might be the reason behind the way his father acted.
Child psychologists warn about this feeling of guilt that a child can feel when they experience domestic violence. Though it seems ridiculous that a 3 year old can feel this way, it seems to be a common one amidst children in abusive, separated, or divorced family. Therefore in order to avoid this, it is advisable to “fake-smile” in combination with other good parenting tactics.
It worked like magic. I continued to follow it right through the abusive, separated and divorce years. Every time I look at my son, if I cannot bring about a genuine smile due to life’s stress, then I post a “fake-smile” to emphasize to him that life will be normal and healthy. Re-iterating that all will be well sooner or later.
People might say “why fake it? Try to smile genuinely. Be happy. But many of us know that is not possible all the time. Sometime life’s pressures bring us down, with deep wrinkles on our forehead. We forget to smile slowly and gradually. Our children imitate us because we are their first role model. So it is best to keep aside the questions, and smile for them. Either genuinely or not.