“You are not Good the way you are”
This is the core wound many of us have…and sadly pass on.
Above all else, children want to feel affection and acceptance from their parents and caregivers. This is what most parents instinctively give their new babies. I know that my instinct was to hold and cuddle, to deeply gaze at, and to speak gently to my children when they were babies. But, it didn’t last forever. Babies don’t stay babies.
I imagine it comes as a shock to children when parents so abruptly withdrawal the affection and acceptance they once gave their small children. This happens as children grow and become less “baby-like”, when their motives can be construed as defiant, when their motives can be defined as disrespectful. When children start being able to exert their will, this presents a challenge. Too often parents take it as a threat to their authority and their worth. The “disrespect” is often met with punishments or consequences which involve making the child feel bad.
This abrupt withdrawal of unconditional love and affection is a crisis that some never recover from.
Image what a shock to the system it would be for a young child to go from being held and loved, to being pushed away, yelled at, blamed, (and hit)…your reality changed forever. Not only are you not safe now, YOU are the problem! What a lonely place: to be the problem, and to be unloved. (Stop that! Get over here! Go to your room! Whack!)
Your world turned upside down, your safety no longer safe…your heart broken. So much confusion and hurt. “Why is this happening?”
As parents, we can leverage love and acceptance to gain compliance. It is effective. Many children will comply in order to fit in and feel safe. Belonging and being close to your caregivers is necessary for survival even. We are playing a dangerous game though. We are playing around with such an important need. Is there not another way? Can we not teach without playing approval and affection games?
How many of the problematic behaviors we see in children (and grown adults) are a result of them desperately trying to chase down that elusive love and acceptance? Think about the problem behaviors you see. How many of these behaviors would evaporate if that person knew at their core that they were deeply loved, lovable, and okay the way they were? What would this person do instead of being destructive?
“Misbehavior” can start out simply as a child trying to exert his will and experience the world. After repeated punishments however, the “misbehavior” can be an expression of deep frustration and loss. “Why can’t you love me the way I am?”
The behaviors are calls for help. These behaviors are protests. It is a broadcasting of one’s pain. “As hard as I try, I cannot figure out how to feel enough, okay, and loveable for who I am.”
With adults, we see a sad reality. The “misbehavior” of a grown and lonely man can reach disastrous proportions. When a grown man acts out his pain of being unloved it can be a serious threat to those around him.
Not all adults turn to violence. Most of us try to numb the pain. So, many people numb out with alcohol, screens, food…work. You name it.
Can you see this? Could you see it in your own life and in others?
Could love, affection and acceptance actually be this powerful? What if it was? What then? How would you love your family? How would you love your children? How would you love yourself?
What would be possible and how would our world change if unconditional love, affection, and acceptance were unshakably present in the lives of our young ones? Who would they grow up to be?
Love this, Drew. I think so many adults feel they “are not enough” (likely due to childhood feelings) so they soothe it with a number of things. Thanks for sharing this awesome post and giving the reminder to unconditionally love our kiddos – regardless of “what” or “how” they are doing. So good!!