|Photo Credit: Music and Lyrics Blog|
Welcome back to The Unconditional Love Challenge. For those of you just joining me here is a little background on what this challenge is all about: Inspired by Dr. Laura at Aha Parenting, I have created The Unconditional Love Challenge. This is a 10 part challenge based on Dr. Laura’s series on Ten Steps to Unconditional Love. I will be posting challenges and results on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month giving you two weeks to tackle each step. You can work as quickly or as slowly as needed.
Got it? Good!
Two weeks ago I issued a hefty challenge. I suggested that in order to live the best life you possibly could that you would need to let go and forgive the actions of other people and/or yourself. Healing your heart will open the door for a much happier life. A happier you and a happier life means better parenting.
So how did you do? Did my suggested approach work for you? Were you able to release some of the negative energy holding you back? Were you able to forgive?
I sure as heck did and I think you saw me doing some of that in my letter to Tiny on her 3rd birthday. Clearly it was myself that I had to forgive. Self-love and self-forgiveness are a bitch. Seriously. It is harder to forgive yourself than it is to forgive someone else. But, I was able to do it. I allowed myself the space the release all of the gunk that had been building up and clogging up my essence. I committed to moving forward and not living in the past. I vowed to allow myself to be imperfect knowing that Tiny loves me anyway. I forgave myself, yet again, for being human.
As always, you can read Dr. Laura’s original post here.
From Dr. Laura: “Unconditional love isn’t just what we feel. It’s what the object of our love feels: love without strings attached. A tall order, since most of us have a little list of things we want “fixed” in our child. I just want him to sleep through the night… If only he’d be nicer to his sister…. When will she use the potty?…. It’s true, our children can drive us crazy. But can you imagine feeling like you just aren’t good enough, the way you are? That’s not what any of us want for our child.”
I don’t know about you, but I think it is easier to love your child unconditionally when they are really little. Seriously, how can you get upset with a little baby? Sure, toddlers can drive you to drink but then they crawl into your lap and say “I wuv you” and the world is suddenly sunshine and roses once more.
As children grow and mature into free thinking, free willed, inquisitive individuals with their own thoughts, ideas, motivation, and ways of doing things, I think it becomes a bit more difficult to love them unconditionally. I could be wrong but from my observations over many, many years, this is the pattern I see.
Your challenge this week can go one of two ways. You can either commit to continuing to love your child unconditionally and take the steps to ground yourself in this commitment OR you can start at the beginning and rebuild that unconditional love you once had, should you realize that you have in fact lost it.
First, look at (or imagine) those traits in your children that either push your buttons or just frustrate the heck out of you. View these traits in a positive light. For example, if your child is somewhat slow in movement (never easily rushed), instead of viewing them as slowing you down and making it tough for you to get out the door, celebrate the fact that your child is taking time to stop and smell the roses; to enjoy each moment of life.
Next, realize that it is human nature to sometimes wish that your child was different. Perhaps your daughter has really curly hair, making it ten times tougher to comb. You often wish for silky straight hair because this would make things easier for you. (Ahem…not speaking from experience or anything). Go ahead and feel the feelings associated with wishing your child was different in some way but then let those feelings go. You can’t change your child and they will be able to feel how you are feeling.
Stop and look at life or a specific situation from your child’s perspective. Let’s say your son is on full meltdown mode while you are at a friend’s house visiting. Instead of immediately thinking how your child is ruining the visit, stop and consider how your child is feeling. Is this a setting that he is not familiar with? Perhaps he is uncomfortable and trying to tell you that. Is he hungry or tired? Are you completely ignoring him? Is he bored? Once you see a moment from the eyes of your child you can more effectively address his needs instead of feeling resentful or frustrated by him.
Listen. Breathe. Teach emotional intelligence. Your child purposefully throws a glass of water on the floor. Instead of getting angry, show empathy. Say something like “it is very dangerous to throw glasses and you know that we do not do this in our family. You are upset about something. What happened that got you so mad?” Open up a line of communication so you can learn what is going on with your child in an effort to address it in a warm, nurturing manner.
Finally, reign in your own anger or harsh emotions. It is easy to react harshly when our children do something that displeases us. That glass of water on the floor could easily have a default reaction of exasperation, stern looks, or yelling. (Ahem again). If we show strong negative emotions in response to our children’s behavior, we are teaching them that this is the appropriate way to react to various situations in life. If we stay calm and hold the space for our child in a peaceful manner, then we are helping them develop healthy coping skills in life.
Good luck on this challenge. It is hefty but not impossible.