Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love, Love, Love

I wonder how much of life is wasted and angst is created trying to prevent a future possibility of angst? I'm thinking of a certain event that happened when E was little. She had gotten a pretty dress for Easter and wanted to wear it right away, even though Easter was two weeks away. I told her I did not want her to wear it because she might get it stained and then she would be sad on Easter when she could not wear it. This led to much sadness on her part and she fought me for the right to wear her dress, right now.

I tabled the argument and went to take a shower. In the shower, or inspiration box, as I like to call it, it hit me. I was creating sadness and a wedge between us, all in order to prevent sadness in the future. Even though my intentions were good - I was trying to save her from pain - all I ended up doing was causing pain. How ridiculous was that? There was not even a guarantee that she would dirty the dress or want to wear the dress at all come Easter morning. Even if she did dribble grape juice down the dress and stain it, what sane reason in the world would prevent me from letting a five year old wear an imperfect garment to church on Easter anyway?!?

I got out of the shower and brought the dress to E, telling her she could wear it whenever she wanted. The look of joy and relief on her face was priceless! Turns out, her Nana sent her a dress for Easter, and she choose to wear that one.

What if I had refused to let her wear the dress? She would have been mad at me and our relationship would have been negatively affected all for nothing. So, I say, as long as what your kid wants now is not going to hurt them or you and will bring them joy, Now, don't worry about what might happen and refuse them what they want in order to save them from that future possibility. Chances are what you fear will not happen. If in the present moment you say yes, Joy will be created, Love will expand, and Trust will deepen.

What if what you fear comes to pass and your kid is upset? Well, that is a new challenge for you, to be present in that moment. A chance for you to be as loving as you can, as understanding and as forgiving, both of yourself and your child. Adding angst on top of angst, or "I told you so", is not going to help your child through their tough spot. It is not going to build the love between you. And it is not going to show your child that they, and their feelings, are important to you.

Pretend like someone else is at fault for the upset your child is feeling -not you for letting them do what they wanted to do and not your child for their failings - and your job is simply to be present and hear their woes, to comfort and to soothe.

The time for reminders of consequences is not in the heat of the moment. People usually think that you have to seize the "teachable moment" and remind the kids what they did wrong so that they will learn "the lesson". Actually, this is the worst time to do this. The emotions of the moment cloud rational thinking and chances are your child will resent the reminder and shut the "lesson" out. How do you feel when you are reminded of a mistake right when you are suffering from that mistake's consequences? I don't know about you, but I usually feel like throttling the messenger. Not exactly what your well meaning loved one intended, I'm sure.

Love them instead and see what happens. Like the Beatles sang, Love is all you need. It really is.

1 comment:

Sam said...

That is just beautiful. I really need this kind of reminder, thank you for sharing.