What does it mean to Love our children?
What would love do every moment and in every interaction we have with our partner, with children, with others?
How do we know what love would do?
Have you heard of ‘The Golden Rule’? A Biblical term referred to by Jesus as, ‘treating others as you would like to be treated’. Notice it is not ‘how you are treated, or how you treat others’ but rather how you would ‘like’ to be treated. Or you could take it one step further and say ‘treat others as God treats me’. This is what I understand ethics (very basically) to be. The beauty of ethics is that it is easy and simple to see based on the above premiss: treat others as you would like to be treated, and in most situations this will give a good indication if you are engaging in a loving manner or not.
For me it is a process of discovery about how God treats me. I am needing to unravel a lot of false beliefs about God and have so far only heard the Truths about God not fully experienced them for myself. So I am beginning with ethics, treating others as I would like to be treated. You can do this with or without God.
What does it mean to parent ethically?
I feel we have a heap of double standards as adults especially with children. If we asked of ourselves what we ask or demand of our kids I can guarantee we would be outraged. We would feel controlled, belittled, interrupted, confined, isolated, shamed, unimportant, ignored, entitled, and probably a heap of other things not mentioned here that you probably felt yourself as a child.
I notice often that I treat kids differently to adults.
Grownups when I was a kid said things they didn’t mean, they lied and hid behind ‘nice’ facades which are not really that nice, sometimes downright terrifying. They said one thing and meant another, they didn’t explain, were dishonest and said they knew or would do things when they didn’t, wouldn’t or forgot, they made promises they couldn’t keep. Kids got in the way, were not as important as adults, didn’t get the same attention. They didn’t know what love was because they had been mis-informed and mis-educated about it also. Sometimes I wonder why people have kids if they don’t want to love them, but it seems there are many parents having kids for other reasons than love.
I realise what I say could be very confrontational. I feel it is true though. I have been looking at my own reasons for having children, they were not pure and to love the children unconditionally. I am having to learn how to love and grow a sincere desire to want to love. I have had a screwed up version of love and a screwed up perception of parenting and I am going through a process of re-education. It feels uncomfortable often and I am coming to terms with the fact that I have not wanted to love. Rather I have wanted to be loved, to be cared for, to be seen as a ‘good mum’. I have wanted the children to demonstrate ‘good’ things about me because I have felt so bad inside of myself.
I feel sad about this because it means I have not allowed the children to just be themselves and love them for it. I have demands, expectations and investments in them. I want from them, rather than to give to them. I have manipulated, moulded and groomed them into what I want them to be, to fit my mould, rather than what God created them to be as they are.
At first I didn’t want to see what I had done. I was in a lot of denial (still am on certain issues and subjects). There are many ways to justify, minimise, deny what we have created and what we do as parents, but honestly we need to get real, get honest and see where we are unethical, where we are out of line in the treatment, especially of children, but also our partners and our brothers and sisters (other people) in general.
Many people think it is okay to shame, condescend to, belittle, hit, hurt, abuse, rage at, violently treat children to varying degrees or under certain circumstances. We say it is ‘for their own good’, ‘we have their best intentions in mind’, often we even say it is because we ‘love’ them. We blame children and excuse ourselves for all sorts of hurtful actions, not seeing that it is us who our children are reflecting in the first place and we are punishing them because we don’t want to be reminded and feel our own pains and hurt parts. It is us who children mirror and they highlight our lack of love.
Children learn so amazingly. They lean quickly and they learn from feelings not words. They reflect our true feelings not the ones we want everyone, including ourselves to believe are true about us (our facades – what we want to believe we are rather than what we actually are at this point in time).
We are responsible, we create so much of the pain in our children’s lives*** – especially when they are very young (as they get older they act out upon the injuries created by us and use their will either in harmony with love or out of it – often dependent on what we taught them until they learn or discover otherwise. Even so their actions come from things that we did to them in the first place, because we chose not to forgive our parents for their actions.), we create it by not allowing our own pain to flow and be released. We create it by suppressing our children, by teaching them to be what we want them to be, rather than be who they are as God created them. We teach our children that they are not okay as they are, they need to be something else – something we approve of, and they do that, or they rebel which ever will cause us to feel the most, and often instead of being humble and feeling our feelings we suppress and punish the child some more. What we need to do is to feel. To own how we feel as we feel it and to feel it responsibly, without taking it out on another soul. It is that simple. Feel and heal – without involving your kids, without involving others, just you and God, if you desire. That is how it is done.
We teach children that parental approval is love. I am saying it is not. Parental approval is nothing in comparison to love, it is a substitute and a poor substitute at that, and yet even as adults we are striving for it rather than seeing that the how we would like to be treated and what we would like to feel (love) from others is mostly not what we are receiving.
I feel that a massive, world wide, re-education program is needed that begins with Love – God’s version not ours. We need to re-educate ourselves with God’s Truth rather than the lies our parents and environment taught us as kids and the lies we continue to tell ourselves as grown ups, reinforcing our erroneous childhood educations, that keep us locked up as damaged children. We need to re-educate ourselves first and automatically this will educate our children about God’s Love and God’s Truth through example rather than theory.
If we really want to love we can begin with ethics, we can begin with treating our children as we would ‘like’ to be treated. We can stop controlling them and begin to love them. We can stop shouting at them and withholding approval of what they do or don’t do and be soft with them, teach them about love, self discovery, self responsibility and ethical behavior themselves.
We need to do this through our actions and behaviour not our words. Words are cheap and meaningless when they don’t match the real feelings coming out of us. Being honest, truthful and real is important for real relationships and friendships. To be ethical we are going to need to first be honest and see what we are doing, how we treat others and ourselves and be honest about how it actually feels. So-often we are conditioned to accept unloving behaviour and we come to feel it is ‘normal’ or ‘the only way’ or even the ‘right way’ I am suggesting there is another way (God’s Way of Love) and that we can start right now, with a first step being by simply practicing and treating others as we would like to be treated.
That means stop blaming others, including your children for your own personal pain. For example, stop getting angry at children and own your feelings as yours, find out why you are angry and what you are angry about. I guarantee that you you don’t enjoy people shouting at you, punishing you, condescending to you, controlling you, having double standards and telling you lies so why are we doing it to others, especially children. Children are honest with us, until they are taught otherwise, so why are we not honest with them?
I am noticing that how I was treated as a child is often how I treat children and it is only as I soften to the hurts within me that I am discovering that naturally and without effort I begin to treat our children and others more softly, acceptingly, compassionately. While I am hard and punishing with myself I am also hard and punishing with others.
I encourage you to explore your own behaviours and how you treat your children, I encourage you to be real and self reflective no matter how painful it feels and find out the truth of what you feel, feel it without harming others or yourself and your life will change if you are doing this sincerely. It is beautiful and a gift to both yourself, your children and those around you.
Give it a go, experiment, discover, explore ethics and see what you discover…
* For more information on Ethics and Morality go to the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mybby95f3vs
** I say ‘your’ children, though I would like to suggest that they do not belong to you at all, but are rather God’s children and your brothers and sisters. I find it helpful to think about this as I treat brothers and sisters very differently to children who I feel I ‘own’. Children are not property, though we have for many generations believed and told them they are. Children are not to be owned, enslaved, brought or sold. Rather children are a perfect gift born from desire and are the most amazing creation and perfect reflection of our soul condition, where we are at and the areas that we need to heal in love. They are a blessing and a gift and our only ‘job’ is to teach them about Love, God’s Truth and God’s Love, God Herself, and allow and enable them to discover for themselves…
***We harm children by mis-educating them about Love, Truth, God and not being truthful about so many subjects. Including not being truthful about our own feelings and thoughts, creating addictions with children, demanding and expecting of them, inhibiting their freewill and not correcting unloving behaviours in a loving way.
Parents have a lot to answer for. I am also beginning to get glimpses though of what an incredible gift being a parent is and if we ‘parented’ more as God intended it would be friggen awesome all round – that is what I aspire to and get excited about! Children are a gift and a very fast way to learn about love, if you are willing and have a sincere desire to love, in a real way.