26 May Yes! Family Love is Possible!
I write what’s in my heart. I don’t study statistics or research papers. I write what I know to be true. As this is my last blog post for United Families International, I want to share some thoughts from my heart about families in hopes it will be inspiring and helpful to you.
Children need a present, loving mother and father. Both roles, male and female, are vitally important for the well-being of a child. Children raised in a home where a loving father and mother work together to overcome challenges and give their children love and open communication are much further ahead in their ability to become successful adults as they experience new life challenges.
Families face complicated issues in our world. Financial stress, loss of a loved one, addictions, physical and mental health challenges are just a few. In spite of the crazy stress of our world, the family unit was designed to be a sanctuary of love, forgiveness and fun.
Imagine the family unit as the first and most important place for your children to learn the beautiful feeling of being loved, as well as the feeling of failure and disappointment. You as the parent have the perfect opportunity of nurturing your children through their mistakes and shortcomings, redirecting them through teaching correct principles and giving them another try. Everyone in the family will make mistakes, including mom and dad. What a wonderful invitation that is, to learn forgiveness and to let go of control, manipulation, and pride.
As parents, it’s easy to use manipulation and coercion as tools for discipline because we want to make our children do as they’re told. They need to know what’s right and wrong, what behavior is good and what is not tolerated. However, this kind of treatment is damaging to the child and to the parent. At some point, the child (likely teen) may become sick of the control and manipulation and will fight back through rebellious actions such as drugs, sexual relationships, pornography, or any other way they can get back and prove they have freedom to do whatever they want, and are mature enough to handle it. Or, the response of the child may be depression and hopelessness.
Manipulation and control is damaging to the parent as well as the child. When parents resort to manipulation and control, it creates more need to be right and pride steps in, creating an inability to forgive and start fresh. After all, “What I say stands. Don’t ask why. Because I’m the parent, that’s why. Just do as you’re told.” Instead of looking the child in the eye, feeling their soul, understanding their need to be loved, and openly communicating with their child, the parent dismisses the child in favor of their own need for power. This can become a negative cycle for the parent when they realize they’ve done wrong, but don’t have the courage to apologize and they feel guilty about their actions. Then it happens all over again and pride reigns supreme.
Imagine for a moment, if mom and dad together understood that no home and no child can be perfect, and that each person in the family has valid needs. Imagine that the parents value their children more than they value what their friends and neighbors think of their parenting and their children’s behavior. Imagine a family where the children know they are loved, even when they make mistakes, and they are given opportunities to start over and try again. This family has boundaries, for sure, but they are governed by love, not control.
A story which illustrates this principle of love and boundaries impacted me years ago. There was a father who was looking forward to his upcoming date with his teenage daughter. It had been on the calendar for several weeks and both father and daughter were looking forward to their time together. But the daughter had made a bad decision and violated a family rule a few days before their date. When it was suggested that their date be cancelled due to the daughter’s behavior, the father stated emphatically that nothing his daughter would do could take away his love for her, and this date was about his relationship with his girl, not about her bad behavior. The daughter was disciplined according to the pre-set consequences they had previously established for that specific behavior, the father daughter date was held, and the family boundaries were kept in tact. In the end, the date they shared worked wonders for the girl, and increased love and trust in their relationship.
Many parents have a difficult time loving and creating this kind of environment in their family, because their own family was dysfunctional and void of much love. I was one of those. I spent years as a mother in the blackness of hopelessness and depression, wondering how in the world could I create love, trust and fun with my children when that wasn’t my past experience? If you wish you could have more love, but you just don’t feel it, please know there is hope for you. The anger, anxiety, hopelessness, lack of confidence and void of love can be healed. Keep searching for your answers. They are there for you. You are loved and God desires the success of your family. Don’t give up. Your children need you and are willing to forgive when you make a mistake. Talk to them, open your heart for your little ones to show you what love is. You are worthy of love. Receive it.
The above paragraph may not apply to you. That’s ok. You are more ahead of the game than some of us. There is room for improvement in all families, and I am grateful to know now, after many years of suffering, that the family unit can be the most beautiful place to experience love and happiness. It’s available for your family as well! (For some solid, detailed ideas of how to achieve this love, please see my previous posts about “living love”)
I want to thank the readers of this blog. You are dedicated to the cause of the family and your own personal improvement. It has been a joy and blessing to write for you. I am full of gratitude to UFI for allowing me to learn and be a part of their team. This is my final blog post for UFI, as I will be creating my own blog and growing my business to mentor families. Thank you!
Thank YOU Nathalie! Our readers are going to miss your insights and wisdom! We wish you the very best in your new ventures! United Families