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Monday, January 19, 2015

Love Courageously



The infant is crying. She's up again, just 45 minutes after her last feeding. She's hungry. She didn't eat enough last time. And she misses mama's skin. It's 3 am. "Just let her cry," you're told. "She has to learn to sleep. She'll stop eventually." She cries until she's exhausted and falls back to sleep.

The toddler is overwhelmed to the point of a tantrum. His emotions are out of control, and he doesn't know how to handle all of these strange and tough feelings. "Ignore him," they say. "If you pay attention to him, he'll think he can throw a tantrum for attention all the time." He wonders why no one will look at him. He needs his loving parent right now. Why won't anyone look at him?

The preschooler was feeling really jealous of the new baby who has been taking a lot of his mommy's attention. He's used to having her all to himself, and so much has changed since the baby came. In a moment of frustration, he smacks the baby on the head. "Give him a spanking so that he knows how much it hurts to be hit, then send him to his room!" He feels the sting of the slap and then is sent off to process his pain alone. He wishes the baby had never came and made him bad.

The young child had a really bad day at school. Some kids were teasing her. She thought they were her friends, but she wasn't allowed to play with any of them at recess. They called her names and told her to go away. The sadness was too hard for her, so she covered it up with anger. When she gets home, she's snappy and in a bad mood. "Make her go to her room," you're told. "Don't let her sass you like that. If you take away her iPad, she'll think twice before sassing you again! Imagine how she'll be when she's a teenager if you let her by with that behavior!" She finds no solace at home. She's being pushed out of the circle here, too.

The teenager gets pressured into making a bad decision. "Shame him! And if you do it publicly, you'll score extra points. If he gets embarrassed on social media, he'll think twice before he pulls a stunt like that again. All his friends will think he's a joke." He wonders if there is anyone in the world he can really trust.

*****


We've always been told to love conditionally- to offer love, affection, and kindness only when children are doing what we like.

What would our world look like if we parents became the givers of unconditional love at all times? We worry that, if we soothe the crying baby, she'll never learn to sleep. We worry if we give attention to a tantruming child, he'll learn to throw fits for attention. We worry if we don't punish the child who hits, he'll end up violent. We worry if we don't squash that bad attitude, she'll get out of control. We worry if we don't come down hard on his bad decisions, he'll end up behind bars.

Worry is based in fear. And where there is fear, love cannot thrive.

*****

The infant is crying. She's up again just 45 minutes after her last feeding. She's hungry. She didn't eat enough last time. Exhausted, you go to her You pick her up and hold her close. You feed her, brush her head softly, and hum. She feels loved and secure. Her belly feels full now. She drifts off to sleep happy.

The toddler is overwhelmed to the point of a tantrum. His emotions are out of control, and he doesn't know how to handle all of these strange and tough feelings. His father goes to him and holds out his arms. "Come here, my son. I'll help you to calm down." The boy crawls in his father's lap and sobs. "You're feeling very upset. I hear you. I am right here to help you through this." The boy relaxes all of his weight into those loving arms. He begins to feel the emotions subside. He trusts that his dad will always be there when he needs him.

The preschooler was feeling really jealous of the new baby who has been taking a lot of his mommy's attention. He's used to having her all to himself, and so much has changed since the baby came. In a moment of frustration, he smacks the baby on the head. His mother comforts the baby and asks the preschooler to sit beside her. "Come here and sit with me. I know you don't want to hurt the baby. Hitting hurts. I'll keep you and the baby safe." The child begins to drop his defenses. "I know I've been spending a lot of time taking care of the baby. I promise at nap time, you and I will do something special together. What can you do to make the baby feel better? How about you give her a cuddle?" He cuddles his sister. He does feel sorry for hitting her. He's looking forward to special time with mom.

The young child had a really bad day at school. Some kids were teasing her. She thought they were her friends, but she wasn't allowed to play with any of them at recess. They called her names and told her to go away. The sadness was too hard for her, so she covered it up with anger. When she gets home, she's snappy and in a bad mood. "Did something happen today to upset you, love? I'm here if you want to talk." She tells her parents about her friends at school. "Wow, that must really hurt. I had something happen like that when I was a kid. I was in the 5th grade and ........" It's nice to be heard and understood.

The teenager gets pressured into making a bad decision. "Let's talk about what happened, son. We've taught you to make good choices. We all make mistakes sometimes, and still it's important that we learn to do better. I know you can learn from this. Let's figure out a solution to this problem." He feels bad that he let his parents down, but he understands that mistakes are an opportunity to learn. He's grateful for loving guidance.

*****

It takes courage to love unconditionally.
It takes courage to get up again and soothe a crying baby.
It takes courage to hold a tantruming toddler.
It takes courage to help an aggressive preschooler.
It takes courage to soothe a hurting child.
It takes courage to teach a wayward teen.

It takes courage because it goes against the grain.
It takes courage because it's a leap of faith.
It takes courage because you face your past.
It takes courage to break old patterns.

The world needs courageous parents.

Love unconditionally.

Love courageously.

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8 comments:

  1. You're an amazing writer. I enjoyed reading this. I've shared all over. :-) I would love for u to follow along on blog. Www.freakoutsandfunnies.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jillian. I've followed your blog. :)

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  2. This was great and on time. I am so excited to journal and to challenge myself to change the way I was taught and to go against the norm, in my family at least.

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  3. In tears as I write this. I wish I could give you a hug.

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  4. Lovely writeup.. Just the answer to my predicament..

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