Perception is Reality

Jonathan - Chesapeake, Virginia
Entered on November 4, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

A little while ago I was driving down the road with my 8-year old half brother in the back seat. My Mother and I were having an intelligent conversation about the upcoming election between Barrack Obama and John McCain. In the middle of the conversation, my little brother did not hesitate to add his own opinion. He proclaimed that Obama was “NObama” and he said that Obama was stupid and that he would be afraid of terrorists if Obama won the election. He even believed that Obama had shot somebody. My Mother and I were stunned at this bold yet incorrect proclamation. It did not take us long to figure out what it was that had contributed to his distorted beliefs. The fact was that my stepmother, a strong supporter of John McCain, had influenced my brother’s perception of the opposite candidate. Children are constantly influenced by their parents’ beliefs and opinions. It is these opinions that lead to a child’s distorted perception of life and reality.

The truth is parents’ role in influencing their children does not stop at politics. They can influence basically every aspect of their children’s lives, from the friends they choose to the career they eventually pursue. Each child is brought into this world, I believe, as a blank slate. They must be molded and shaped by their parents, friends, family, and even school systems. Obviously, children must be influenced to a certain degree at a young age so that they are able to become unique members of our society later on. It is when children’s individual perceptions become their own reality that the trouble starts. It should come as no surprise to many that once a child has an idea in his head, it stays there, sometimes for a long time. We have all seen children arguing, sometimes fighting over where they believe babies come from, or in rare cases, who the winner of the next election will be. In my little brother’s case, he truly believed that Barrack Obama was not a good person, not having reasons why, and nobody could change his mind. Parents should try to keep their opinions to themselves, or at least stop protesting them in front of their children. Children are confused about the world as it is.

Everybody has their own ideas, opinions, and perceptions about the world around them. Most people at least have a reason for their beliefs. Children, on the other hand, have no warrants for their opinions and ideals. Parents are responsible for influencing children’s beliefs, which create an individual reality for that child. Most of the time, we can wait for the child to grow up and forget about their simple beliefs such as believing in the tooth fairy, or that thunder is just angels bowling. However, when a child, such as my 8-year old brother, says something that is potentially offensive to others, a serious problem emerges. Parents need to think twice before voicing their opinions in front their children. They need to teach their children that they can have their own opinions, as long as they have reasons to believe them.