Love is such a funny thing. It can be found in the most random of places.
I have 3 beautiful children. All who I love beyond measure. All who are unique and special and kind and smart and just simply amazing.
Yeah, they have their moments, and they drive me nuts but always, always, they are loved.
This past weekend we experienced an absence of love.
We had been on a camping trip with people we knew. This was our first (and probably last) camping trip with this family. The minute I said yes, I regretted it. I love my friend and her partner but have always struggled a bit with the behaviour of her children. The manners weren’t quite there for me and her boys had always been a bit more unruly for my liking.
I saw the weekend though as a way to get to know the children better and let my love of my friend extend to them as well.
Apparently love doesn’t work like that.
Our weekend was spent (mostly) holding my tongue and wondering what the hell was going on. You see love isn’t always a fairytale and where we thought love would be, was not actually where we foound it at all.
You see we realised this past weekend that sometimes love comes in the form of discipline.
I can only describe these kids we camped with as completely out of control. One child wasn’t even there. At 15 he has been basically living at the girlfriend’s house. His mother has never met the girlfriends mother and only briefly has chatted to the girlfriends father and yet she has left her son in their care because it was the easiest thing for her to do. The boys step-father is leaving all decisions about the 15 year up to his mother. Even though he has been the only father this boy has known for at least the last 10 years, he still doesn’t consider himself the boy’s father.
The two boys that did come were complete nightmares. One constantly whinged for whatever he wanted, and I mean constantly. He whinged for food, for what activity he wanted to do, for where he wanted to go, that his tent wasn’t right, that he wanted to go home, that he wanted cake, that he wanted a campfire in the middle of the day. It wasn’t even asking for these things, it was full on whinging. I was sure my head would explode from the whiny, whingy, moany annoyance of it all.
Every single time his mother said no, then no and no again and again and again until finally she got furious and just gave in. Giving him everything he wanted. This child knew he would get his way, it was just how much whinging he would need to do to get there. The other child did the same thing but added bullying to his list of horrible attributes.
This people, IS NOT LOVE. You do your child no favours but constantly giving into them. All you are doing is being lazy. Pure and simple, lazy. What you are telling your child is that they are not valued. That they aren’t heard. What happens to that child in later life. A person who doesn’t feel loved will struggle to thrive. To grow. To show respect. To love themselves or others.
What you are doing is telling your child is that they are not valued. That they aren’t heard (despite the whinging). That their well-being is far down the list from you own.
What do you think happens to that child in later life. A person who doesn’t feel loved will struggle to thrive. To grow. To show respect. To love themselves or others.
Children need discipline. They need boundaries. They thrive on it. Please don’t skimp on discipline believing that you are being your child’s ‘friend’. You are not their friend, you are their parent. The best thing you can do for your child is to actually parent them.
By teaching your child what is acceptable and what is not, you are giving them love. You are teaching them to respect others and very importantly to respect themselves.
Dont get me wrong, discipline is not yelling and shouting or getting violent with your kids. It’s making rules and sticking to them. No. Matter. What. It’s consequences (this is a big one). It’s self-control and taking responsibility – yes, even when you don’t really want to do it.
It’s offering choices instead of just saying no. It’s offering comfort but still sticking to your guns. It’s connecting with your child and finding out what they really wanted all along was just to connect with you.
Your child is crying out for your attention.
Discipline is also not only for your children. It’s having your own self-discipline and doing what you said you would do. Your children are watching you. They are doing what you are doing, saying what you are saying. Don’t let them down by letting yourself down.
This is something you start from the beginning – believe me it is so much easier that way.
If you have kids that are already out of control, that is no excuse not to start showing love through discipline right now. Even the worst child can be turned around. It will be hard. It will take way more effort than if you had started at birth but it can be done.
Our children are totally worth that. Our children deserve to be loved. Please go and love your children today.