To Be Enjoyed or Not to Be Enjoyed
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
To be enjoyed or not to be enjoyed? That is the question many parents wrestle with when it comes to their children.
There are days all parents experience, those wonderful magical days, when all of your children are cooperative, they get along well with each other, they eat all of their vegetables, and they thank you several times a day for all the hard work you do.
On those days, we are full of love for our children. On those days, we enjoy them so much we almost burst with gratitude that we get to spend another minute with these children!
We can’t give them enough hugs and kisses on those days because our love is overflowing for them. If they asked us for something, we would do almost anything to get it for them because they are so awesome.
Thank goodness they don’t see our vulnerability and ask us for things on those days because they are so filled with thankfulness for what they have already been given.
Man, I sure enjoy my children on days like that!
Then, there are the other days. The days our children have no interest in following directions, they don’t want vegetables or mac n cheese, they argue with their brother or sister about everything, and any type of limit setting turns into a gigantic explosion.
On those days, it can be difficult to see your child as a gift. On those days, it might even be difficult to reach out and give them a hug or kiss. On those days, some parents just want to close their eyes and go to a quieter place, a place where their children can’t find them for several hours or maybe a day or two.
We find it very hard to enjoy much about our children on those kind of days!
This is where my question comes in, is it the chicken or the egg?
Does my child’s enjoyable behavior lead me to enjoy them more (maybe even love them more), or does my enjoyment (possibly unconditional love) of my child no matter what their behavior is, lead them to have more enjoyable behavior?
For most us, when we are behaving at our worst, it is a result of us feeling at our worst. When we feel discouraged, ashamed, tired, hurt, hungry, we tend to act out in pretty unpleasant ways. We are not surprised when we act this way and those around us don’t enjoy us because we don’t much enjoy ourselves.
On the flip side, we have all experienced occasions when we have been feeling pretty low and acting pretty poorly and someone comes along, sees past all that and just enjoys us (children do that a lot with their parents).
Many times this interaction makes it so much easier to flip the script. In those moments, I have watched people become empowered to change their behavior and their mind set. I know I have been moved when I am upset, rude, and dismissive, but one of my children comes up to me, hugs me, and wants to play with me.
In my mind, in that moment, I don’t understand why they would want to do that because I don’t feel worthy of their love or their enjoyment. A lot of our children feel this way as well.
When they are throwing their fits, screaming, yelling, pushing our buttons, they are desperate to see in someone’s face that they are not summed up by this moment, there is more to them than meets the eye, they can be enjoyed (loved) even when they are being somewhat unenjoyable. It is this belief children can grab a hold of to pull themselves out of what seems like an overwhelming hole of emotion.
Our children need us to see past what they are doing and help remind them of who they are, a gift, a gift we so desperately want to enjoy.