Early experiences influence your child’s later life. What your child learns about the world today influences how he or she will interpret new events as well as shape what is learned next. What is learned next then influences the theories developed about the world as your child evolves into adulthood. The adult theories and ideas about how the world works—theories and ideas grounded in early experiences—ultimately determine what will be thought, felt, and done in any given situation.

Childhood memories are a particularly significant part of how early experiences shape future selves, and yet children have little control over what happens to them to create those memories. Parents and other caregivers actually have more influence over what happens to children than do the children themselves, so adults have a special kind of responsibility to their child’s childhood.

So though there is much we cannot control about our adult children’s lives, there is one important aspect of our children’s adult life that we can control—what they remember from childhood. We can determine to a large extent whether or not our children grow up to be adults who remember affectionate parents, a sense of connection, and feeling that they are significant and can make a difference in the world.

Create experiences with your children that they—and you—will remember happily.