My children teach me love everyday.
The following is an incomplete list of ways I teach my children love (this could also be applied to all other relationships):
I Tell Them.
I tell my children I love them as much as I can. I know that I am not perfect and I can get frazzled and overwhelmed as a parent. But, as much as I can, I hold their little faces in my hands, look into their beautiful eyes and I tell them how much they mean to me—how amazing and brilliant they are, how important they are, how smart, beautiful and light-filled they are.
I speak honestly and openly about how much love I have for them and how much love they radiate from themselves all of the time. We are born pure love; we just get conditioned into forgetting. I give them heartfelt acknowledgements as much as I can and tell them truthfully what they mean to me.
I Love Myself.
We want our children to love themselves! We want them to trust in themselves and feel powerful in who they are and what they go through in different stages of their lives. Mama, the best way for your child to learn to love themselves is through your example. Enough of the self-hatred talk (“I’m too skinny or too fat,” “I’m ugly,” “I’m such an idiot”), even if you are not always saying it out loud, kids pick up on this sh*t. It’s time to practice loving and nurturing yourself.
It starts with you. Put money and time away for the things you love to do. Meditate, chant and sing, put your bare feet on the ground, do yoga, eat all kinds of foods without beating yourself up. Stop being so hard on yourself.
We all go through “mommy guilt.” Practice sitting in love for yourself. Tell yourself how amazing and light-filled you are. Take care of and nurture yourself, so your child has a great example of what self-love looks like. Lead by example!
I Let Go of Control.
Sometimes our kids, just like our other fellow humans, go through things that we may not understand. I trust that they are on their own journey and are having the experiences they need to have.
Whether they are throwing tantrums, not listening, getting upset or whatever it is, you do not need to control them. Sometimes we want them to behave a certain way so we are not embarrassed in front of people, or we feel like, “Oh my God, what have I raised?” Drop the control. Of course, I do believe there is balance, and if your child is harming themselves or others, there need to be boundaries. But, allow your child to go through what they need to go through as much as you safely can.
Example: When I was in my teens I went through a really weird, angry, partying stage. My parents tried to stop me and control me, and this made me rebel more and feel more misunderstood—and like I needed to hide. The best thing my parents did for me was let me have my freedom. I’m sure this was painful for them, but I needed to make my “mistakes,” learn my lessons and learn about myself. It will all work out! The next one ties in nicely with this.
I Teach them How to Express their Emotions Responsibly.
Have you heard of the five natural human emotions? If you have not, these emotions are joy/love, fear, envy, grief and anger. We humans get kind of weird about these. Growing up in today’s society, I feel I learned something like, “If you feel anything but joy, there’s something wrong with you.” I don’t think anyone said it to me directly, but I think we’ve probably all felt this.
How do you express these five emotions regularly? I like to take time as often as I can to feel what needs to be expressed. I have a pattern of trying to numb or stuff anger (which in my opinion then causes dis-ease), so I like to take the time to generate it, feel it and let go of the energy, so that I am not just a ticking time bomb. This can look like: screaming into a pillow, punching a pillow, screaming under water, doing an Osho energy movement, etc. For grief: Feel and cry.
Express your own emotions responsibly and share the tools you use with your children. They love this. It feels healing and freeing. Remember, feeling emotions other than joy does not make you “bad” or “wrong”; it makes you human.
Be Present with Them.
Put down the electronics, and just be with yourself, and with your little ones. We are only here for a limited time; don’t take it for granted.
I Let them Be Themselves and Free.
My parents raised me to express who I am, and to follow my passion. I never felt pushed to follow today’s ideals of “success.” They always just encouraged me to do what I love and told me they always supported me. This is something I hope to pass on to my boys.
All in all, Mama, don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no manual for raising kids; it can be a tough job.
Follow your heart, be gentle and nurturing with yourself, allow yourself room to grow, and trust!
Author: Ali Gray
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Author’s Own