Most of us really don’t like it when someone is angry at us. We don’t like it when people go into resistance to helping us when we need help, instead of caring about us. We don’t like it when people withdraw from us, disconnecting from us and shutting us out. We don’t like it when people make demands on us and do not respect our right or need to say no. Many of us will do almost anything to avoid the soul loneliness and pain we feel when people treat us in angry, resistant, demanding and uncaring ways.
It takes great courage to stay loving to ourselves and others when faced with others’ angry and closed behavior.
It especially take courage when the people we are dealing with are our own children. Yet unless we have the courage to come up against our children’s anger, resistance, and withdrawal, we will give ourselves up and not take care of ourselves to avoid their uncaring reactions. The more we deny our own truth and our own needs and feelings, the more our children will disrespect and discount us. Our children become a mirror of our own behavior, discounting us when we discount ourselves, disrespecting us when we disrespect ourselves.
The more we give ourselves up to avoid our children’s unloving behavior toward us, the more we become objectified as the all-giving and loving parent who doesn’t need anything for ourselves. When we do this, we are role-modeling being a caretaker.
On the other hand, it is unloving to ourselves and our children to expect our children to take responsibility for our well-being. It is unloving to demand that our children give themselves up to prove their love for us and to pacify our fears. It is unloving to demand that they be the way we want them to be rather than who they are.
It is unloving to set limits just to make us feel safe, rather than limits that support their health and safety. When we behave in this way, we are role-modeling being a taker.
The challenge of good parenting is to find the balanced between being there for our children and being there for ourselves, as well as the balance between freedom and responsibility – to be personally responsible to ourselves rather than be a taker or a caretaker.
Our decisions need to be based on what is in the highest good of our children as well as ourselves. If a child wants something that is not in our highest good to give, then it is not loving to give it. If we want something that is not in the highest good of our children, then it is not loving for us to expect it.
It is loving to support our children’s freedom to choose what they want and to be themselves, as long as it doesn’t mean giving ourselves up. Children do not learn responsible behavior toward others when their parents discount their own needs and feelings to support what their children want. Our own freedom to choose what we want and to be ourselves needs to be just as important to us as our children’s freedom and desires.
On the other hand, if we always put our needs before our children’s, we are behaving in a self-centered, narcissistic way that limits our children’s freedom.
We are training our children to be caretakers, to give themselves up for other’s needs and not consider their own.
The challenge of loving parenting is to role-model behavior that is personally responsible, rather than being a taker or caretaker. This is our best chance for bringing up personally responsible children.
However, we need to remember that we can do everything “right” as a parent, but our children are on their own path, their own soul’s journey. They will make their own choices to be loving or unloving, responsible or irresponsible. We can influence their choices, but we can’t control them. They have free will, just as we do, to choose who they want to be each moment of their lives.
All we can do is the very best we can to role-model loving, personally responsible behavior – behavior that supports our own and our children’s highest good.
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