No, I’m not actually going to talk about hair or shampoo or anything like that, but really what was running through my mind was the stupid whine that seems to be on a looping track these days.
I’m so tired. We’re running around crazy busy. I never seem to have time or energy to do things that I like to do. We are commuting too many hours in a week. When will we buy a place in the BIG CITY? Will we actually be able to get a place in the BIG CITY? Whine! Whine! Whine! Moan! Moan! Moan! Snivel! Snivel! Snivel! and all that crap….
It seems to be all I’m saying these days, and I’m thinking that you have got to be at the very least as sick of hearing about it, as I am sick of whining about it.
And so….I’m gonna talk about something else.
I wanna talk about LOVE! Yup, Love.
See, I’ve been mulling a whole concept of “Unconditional Love” over and over and over in my brain….about as much as I’ve been whining about it, and so you know it’s quite a bit.
The concept of loving unconditionally in your life takes a RADICAL SHIFT of thinking….at least it does in mine.
Especially in the area of parenting.
You see, Since we became parents……12-13 years ago – we’ve done this sllllliiiiiide from one type of parenting to this whole completely different kind of parenting.
Before we were all about control. Control your children so that you can train them properly and then you’ll have good kids. Yell at them when they get outta line, spank them (it’s how we were raised), if they disobey, make sure that the punishment is so severe that they never want to even contemplate doing that thing again. And make sure that they know who is the boss….if they don’t respect you as being in control, then you’ve lost all hope of ever having a good kid…..
There was a lot of fear that we might “mess up” and somehow our kids would be wrecked or ruined and then it would all be our fault and we’d be these horrible bad parents and “Woe is us! We wrecked our kids! There is no hope for us or them!”
I know that’s a bit of an overkill reaction, but it’s kinda what we felt like.
Slowly……OH. SO. SLOWLY……there were aspects of that type of thinking that just didn’t sit well with us and we started to institute slow, tiny, itty-bitty, baby steps of changes. I think the first change was that we decided to not spank our kids any more. Not that we don’t believe that there shouldn’t be consistent discipline or that there shouldn’t be consequences for choices made, both positive and negative…..but we just didn’t see that “we” could justify “hitting” our children in anger or love or really for any reason. I never wanted to see the kids flinch when we raised our hands to them. We don’t want to see them shrink into a shell of themselves when a voice is raised at them. We don’t want their concept of us to be an angry, yelling, hurtful parent who is disappointed when they mess up and is only happy and approving when they “get it right”. We don’t want their concept to be that if they are “good” then we are happy and accepting; and if they are “bad” then we reject them until they “get it all together”.
We want to love our children and to be a safe place for them to grow and develop and to stretch their “wings”. We want them to RUN TO US not only when things are good, but especially when things are bad. We want for their concept of us to be that we love and accept them for WHO they are and not for what they DO. They can’t win or lose our love. Our love is UNCONDITIONAL…..is it FOREVER. We love them because they are our children. We just love them.
When we love unconditionally, we just accept that there are hard times and better times. There are things that they need to learn, and what better place to learn those things than within the boundaries of our love.
The whole unconditional love concept doesn’t mean that I just let my kids run wild and do whatever they want, and I just say….well, my love will make up for all the rude destructive behaviour and one day they’ll grow up to be productive successful contributing members of society. Nope! I’m still responsible to train these little ones. I’m more responsible the younger they area and as they grow older, my responsibilty for them lessens until they are confidently standing on their own and then I’m just their if they need me and ask for my help or advice.
But for now….they can learn through choices and consequences. Life is made up of choices and consequences and just about everything that we do in life is either a choice or a consequence. I can choose to speed, but I have to accept that if I speed, the consequence could be a $150 ticket at the least OR I could kill someone at the worst. Learning to make positive choices, means that I don’t want to kil anyone and so I choose to NOT speed because I don’t even want to deal with that consequence…..
But the whole idea of choices and consequences means that I don’t have to yell anymore….not that i’m not human and sometimes I go further than I can handle and then I get to apologize to my kids for yelling. I mean, if I want them to be respectful to me and to each other, do I not offer them respect as well. Lead by example, right? But take tonight for example…..we’ve talked about not yelling at each other. Talk respectfully. Treat each other the way that you’d want to be treated. But, tonight….that one didn’t go over so well.
The kids were helping to tidy the house and Xandra and Jeremy started to get a little frustrated at each other and instead of asking us for help with their dilemma or figuring out a way to communicate their needs and wants…it dissolved fairly quickly into Xandra screaming in a fit of rage that she “WASN’T SCREAMING AT YOU?” And so calmly I told them both to go to their rooms and get their jammies on as it was time for them to go to bed.
They dissolved into a sobbing mess, neither wanting to go to their rooms, but both heading their all the while crying about how sorry they were that they were yelling and that they wanted to stay up and help.
I calmly explained that I wasn’t angry, but that the consequence for screaming at each other disrespectfully was that their time helping in the family was over and they could just go to sleep. Xandra handled it a bit better than Jeremy and got her jammies on and piled into bed. Jeremy was a bit more upset and that’s normal as his brain doesn’t always grasp the situation quite the same way as the girls due to his own personal sturggles.
Just because he struggles doesn’t mean that he gets away with it. He still has to deal with the consequences that his choices bring to him. That’s life…that’s what life brings…that’s what he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. It’s better that the learn that now, where it’s safe within our love as opposed to learning it when he steps out on his own…..that would not be loving of us to just “set him loose to figure it out on his own”, would it?
And so, I went back to their rooms, and hugged them and explained how the situation could have gone differently. There are several different scenarios that they could have chosen, but their choice was to try and control the situation by force. In effect, they were beating each other with their words and their volume….not cool! They did “get it” and they went to bed. In case you were wondering, it was 7:30pm and by the time all was said and done and their lights were turned out it was 8pm, so it’s not like I sent them to bed at 5pm…
But the big thing….once upon a time….I would have yelled….and possibly screamed at them to exert my control and force over the situation. I would have used my words and volume to try and force them to do what I wanted. They have learned from me, and it’s going to take time to help them “un-learn” that way of dealing with situations. Fortunately, I have that time and I’m willing to take the time to help them learn new ways of dealing with different situations that come up.
My kids are still expected to be respectful of people and things. They are not allowed to just run wild. BUT…….I want them to know that above all else, they are loved and that they are loved because they are my children, and not because they are “doing” it right. I believe in them. I want the best for them. I will be cheering them on ans they make great decisions, and I will be here with open arms when they make choices that negatively affect them or those around them. I WILL LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY!