Many of us have grown up with a warped concept of what love is. Somehow as we grew up we learned along the way that love, like acceptance, was something you earned. If you were a good little girl and behaved well then you became worthy of love.
A friend of mine brought this to mind as she shared her weekend with me. Over the weekend she spent a considerable amount of time bonding and playing with her little girl. One time the little one did something that ticked my friend off and she told her daughter. The little girl was so remorseful and she kept doing stuff to make it up. She would do a task then come over to her mom for approval. The message to my friend was “see mommy I am a good girl you can love me now.”
It broke her mom’s heart. She wanted her daughter to know that she was loved unconditionally whether she was good or bad. She would get punished for her infractions of course but that did not mean that she was loved any less.
I am sure every parent has struggled with the same thing one time or the other. How do you make your child know that they are loved even when they are being disciplined, more so when they are younger?I learnt early that the key is to be consistent in the expression of affection. When my boys were younger, more so Toriah, they would get very offended when they were punished.
Toriah equated punishment as rejection and he would want nothing to do with his dad or me after a spanking. But I always forced a hug. I would spank him then tell him that I loved him and hug him. At first he would be like a stone, unyielding but after a few moments he would yield and give way to the angst.
Tony and I also decided that punishment was part of the journey and not an event, so we did not let it interfere with whatever else was happening. For instance if we had promised a treat then one of the children did something wrong. The two incidences were treated separately. You got the punishment and still got the treat. This was because the two things had nothing to do with each other.
Have we always been successful? Of course not, being human there are times when our good intentions mean nothing in the midst of major angst. But we strive to do the best we can.
As a parent that is all one can do, and often there are those aha moments that make you know that your best is good enough. This morning at breakfast my eldest son Tj was talking to his uncle about jobs that require a lot of travelling.
He kept wishing that I had such a job because I would bring him gifts from all ports. My brother in law asked about the long absences from home and my son replied “She would travel with us over the holidays.” “How do you know that would be possible?” asked my brother in law.
Tj did not even blink, “Oh I know my mom.” As far as he was concerned he figured I would do all I could to make sure that I spent time with them, whatever it took, because they were a priority. I smiled, he was right. He knew his mom.