Monday, January 11, 2016

Parenthood: Week 135 - Showing Love To A Toddler

Sometimes it's hard to show love to a toddler.

It’s starting to become a regular thing. Right before bed, Ollie refuses to let me read a book to him and demands that my wife read to him. Sometimes I give up and other times Diana validates his feelings but tells him that we will reads a book together. She starts reading and we take turns. Sometimes Ollie protests, but more often than not, once we get into the book, he accepts us reading to him together.

A couple nights ago when Ollie angrily protested again when I offered to read a book to him, I examined my options. I could try to read to him and hope that he accepts me reading, which probably wouldn’t work or I could just get Diana. I thought, “it’s not a big deal, Ollie isn’t showing me love, so I should just get Diana.” As I started walking away from Ollie I realized that I had another option.

Whenever Diana intervened and convinced Ollie to let both of us read to him, she was showing him the love that he wasn’t showing love to either of us. Instead of pulling away, Diana brought him closer to herself, dug deeper and got creative.

Instead of walking downstairs to get Diana, I walked over to the other room and got Ollie’s stuffed giraffe, Gigi. I asked Ollie if he wanted Gigi to read him. He became excited about this idea and a proceeded to read to him in a voice that was a cross between Eric Cartman and Lindsay Graham. Almost immediately we were both giggling and enjoying Mister Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself.

In the face of tantrums, and meltdowns, which as toddlers get older become more verbal, parents have to dig deeper and deeper to express love that is truly unconditional.

A while back I wrote this post about the idea of unconditional love. It's a term that many people discuss as something they express but in reality is part of the human condition that few of us truly achieve.

To love unconditionally to express kindness, care and empathy to another person regardless of what feelings they express towards you and the choices that person make in their life. Our society is full if examples of parents loving conditionally. There's the mother who will not allow their son to come home for thanksgiving unless he doesn't bring his boyfriend and agrees to keep quiet about what she views as his "lifestyle" choice. There's the father of a teenage girl who gives up reaching out to his daughter after she rejects his invitations to go out to lunch for the tenth time. There's the parent who just can't take the pressure of life who decides to walk away.

If you think about the idea of love in the context of what you get from other people than you are thinking about a business transaction, not love. A child who expresses a lack of gratitude or respect to their parents at any age is no less deserving of their parents love than any other kid.

It’s really hard to give love to kids and not have this reciprocated. But you have to dig deep, and keep throwing love bombs. This kind of love is one of the most important things we give to our children.

When children receive love from their parents, no matter what those children say or do, it shows them that they are always deserving of love.  This external love become internal love and as these children becomes an adult, they love themselves throughout their lives. 

Is this way your love for your child will always be with them.

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