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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Brainwashing Your Children

I believe in brainwashing.  It’s one of the most useful activities in which you, as a parent, might engage.  Left to their own devices, children will often run off into a mental ditch.

“I do not like vegetables,” Sashenka declared upon our first homecooked meal in the Moscow apartment were rented for a few days, while processing post-adoption paperwork.

The three of us sat at the postage-stamp-sized kitchen table, plates of pelemeni, smetana, and peas before us:  two troubled girls, and one troubled mother.

“Just try them.  Many vegetables are naturally very sweet,” I encouraged.  “Plus, they make your brain smart,” I shared slyly.

She tentatively tasted them.

“Nyum, nyum,” she declared in Russian, “do you have more?”


Of course, the children don’t always take to my endless-loop urgings.  I remember when the self-help gurus claimed that subliminal recordings could transform lives.  Maybe it’s just me, but I question from where those “scientific findings” originated, or what studies might be quoted to back up such data.

Most of the people I know have enough trouble with conscious positive affirmations.  How in the world will subconscious affirmations help them?  Many have an unconscious “conscious state”, which is why I postulate that brainwashing is the only way to go—conscious, out loud, repetitive, and irrestible.

“Another wonderful day for school,” I begin our day together, “where your studies are easy and effortless, because you are smart, disciplined, and headed for success in life….”

“You are straight-A magnets,” I continue, “with the ability to overcome every obstacle.  If anyone can do it, you can.  Your hard work in school will pay off, as you experience the pride of succeeding and accomplishing your goals.”

Alright, so three out of four have no goals for the long- or short-term, other than making it to lunch, or the weekend.  But still, I am planting the idea that they might one day wake up out of their self-induced coma.

Rather than a Soviet strategy from way back when, I believe that brainwashing is a concept found in the pages of the Bible.  Whatever you believe, really believe, about yourself, you become.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

“And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33).

Just like the children of Israel, the children of Alexandra and Benedetto need to face the giants that oppose them. Rather than revert to stinkin’ thinkin’, they must focus on the unique strengths and abilities that God has given them, instead of fixating on others.  An inferiority complex simply results in more inferiority, and so I pour my motivational messages into their brains every minute of every day.

Similar to prisoners of war, sometimes the brainwashing works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I can hose down their little grey cells all I want, but if they decide to run their mind back through the mental mud puddle, we have to start all over again.

It doesn’t happen overnight, nonetheless, I perceive progress.

“Mama, I am moving into my grade level!” Mashenka exclaims with glee.  “A year ago, Papa tried to work with me on this material, and I could not understand it.  Now I can!”

“That’s right, you can do it!” I reinforce.  “Last year, you had more of a struggle with English, and from having no educational foundation for such studies.  Now, you’re grasping more and more.”

“Mama, I finish my schoolwork every night,” Pasha declares, taking on more responsibility, despite the pull toward being the class clown.  “If I fall behind during the day, I make up for it at night.”

“I know, I’ve seen you really trying to focus,” I pat him on the back.  “Nobody can hold you back.”

It’s taken us three years with him, and two years with the girls, but we are beginning to glimpse the promised land glimmering on a distant shore.  Not every day is oppositional, confrontational, and uncooperative.  The brain is firing new pathways, and we are warmed in the light of it.



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3 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    Just like the little blue engine that could…. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”. Positive thinking to reach the goal will get you there. Most every child can benefit from this story.

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