Taboo Carnival. Our topic this Fall is I LOVE YOU BUT I DON’T ALWAYS LIKE YOU! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on the concept of loving versus liking our children and their behaviors. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
My favorite book of all-time is "The Secret Garden," by Francis Hodgson Burnett. One of my favorite lines in this story is when Martha is relating a dialogue between herself and her mother. Martha reiterates that she had been putting others down and expressing what she didn't like about this one and that, when when her mother asked her a most profound question: "How does tha like thysel'?"
You have to say that in a Yorkshire accent - very important! The point is that as Martha was so busy disliking things about everybody else, that she never stopped to think about what a disagreeable person she was for doing so. And as Martha thought on her mothers words, she reflected that she really didn't like herself at all.
This is a prevalent theme in the book, as the snide and cynical self-entitled Mary first begins to realize that others did not like her because she was hateful towards them - and as Master Collin is also slowly made aware that others considered him an absolute bear to be around and avoided him whenever they could.
I find that I often have similar concerns about my children when they become overly self-minded to the point that they stop considering that others have important feelings. This is most common with my little girl, who needs more help than most learning to be respectful of other peoples thoughts and feelings. Currently, we are working on not shouting "interesting" observations of another persons physical appearance, as they may find it very hurtful.
Though I do not tell my children that I don't like them, I do try to let them know that they are not always likeable or agreeable to be around. Here are some examples:
- Hogging all of the toys when their friends come to play - or when playing at their friends house. It's okay to have some toys that they don't want others to share, and we can put those away before our friends arrive. But when they are constantly refusing to share, their friends won't feel very excited about coming to play with them in the future. This is basic action/consequence. I feel it's important to let them know that while they are entitled to their own feelings, they should not discount the feelings of others and expect others to want to continue playing with them.
- "I don't feel like talking to you when you're yelling at me like this! But when you stop shouting at me, we can talk."
I find myself saying this frequently these days, as my nearly 5 year old daughter is very expressive when she is angry. She has always been passionate and explosive in anger, and will scream, slam things, stomp her foot, throw things, etc. When she was littler, we had different ways have getting through these moments, including breastfeeding, holding her and offering consolation, or just allowing her to melt-down safely in another room, when I felt my temper rising and I needed to take a moment gain or maintain my composure. Now that she is able to understand the emotional impact she is having on others I strive to teach her in those moments. It's working well, and she can calm herself in the moment before fully falling apart.
- Making others feel good about themselves is the best way to make friends. This does not mean that we should pander to everyones feelings all of the time, or give false compliments. People can tell when you're not being genuine. But as a standard rule of thumb - people like those who make them feel good, and dislike those who make them feel badly.
This applies especially towards my older kids, as they navigate the social waters of Jr. High and High School, where the pressure to be cool and popular can feel overwhelming. Many kids have the impression that they need to have expensive or coveted things in order to gain the respect of their peers. The truth is, most people will be your friend as long you treat them nicely. There are, of course, some who won't - but those people aren't really interested in friendship anyway.
- You are stuck with yourself for life, so be somebody you like, is something I say to my kids often. I will tell them frequently that they need to be the type of person they would want to be friends with because there will be times in their lives that they feel very alone and the only company they have is themselves.
Watching my children grow is truly a privilege. But it's not always fun or pleasant, and no - I don't always like it. I often find myself disliking my children's behavior, especially when they are being unkind towards each other or me. If I did not let know that their actions have a negative effect on peoples feelings - and the way they are perceived, I would not be giving them the tools to become the kind of person they themselves will like and respect.
next Taboo Carnival! Enjoy the posts from this month’s Carnival participants!
- How Do You Like Yourself? — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about teaching her children likability.
- Learning to Like and Love — JeninCanad at Fat and Not Afraid divulges the long journey it's been to learn to love, then like, her son.
- I hated my three year old — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about how much trouble she had dealing with her 3 year old.
- Love vs Like: How to Deal With Not Liking Your Kid — Amy at Presence Parenting explores an approach to loving what we dislike the most about our kids.
- You Can Love Someone and Not Like What They Do — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children reminds herself, just as she reminds her children, that unconditional love is not dependent on liking what a person does.
- Maternal ambivalence … and why it's ok — Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses how we can't live up to the "maternal ideal" as much as we — and our babies — might want us to.
- Miracles into Monsters and Back Again — Amy W at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work processes the pain and hidden beauty of a gentle mother's greatest weakness - when little miracles act like little monsters!
- When Mothers Love But Don’t Like Their Children — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on the deeper meaning behind loving but not liking one's child. She argues that a mother never stops loving or liking her child. In fact, the dislike is rooted in the behavior and not the person.
- I love her, but... GRR — Jorje of Momma Jorje vents a bit about annoying behavior, but loves her children... even when they drive her nuts!