As adults, most of the time, we either aim to parent just like our parents or be the exact opposite of them. My goal when having kids has always been to try to lift them up and have them always know I loved them more than anything.
Growing up we were taught not to show emotion or that you cared. Feelings were something you did not talk about. You were to always keep everything inside. My mother was never a warm and happy person. She was always mad and yelling about something. Love was not something you were shown. It was just assumed. There was never a time where my mother actually hugged me and acted like she cared for what I was doing. After a gymnastics meet, cheer competition, swim meet, etc I’d see other kids parents giving them hugs after and telling them how good they did. I never got told I did a good job or got a happy hug. I immediately got told what I did wrong or how someone else did something better than me. My mother pushed by intimidation. Her way to make me “do better” was to tell me how much better someone else was than me. She would often compare me to her friends children. Even as an adult she enjoys telling me how much better her friends children are doing than me. I work really hard to remind myself that each of my children are different. And they are different than other peoples children. So you really can’t compare one child to another. All you can do is encourage, support and help them grow in the best way for them individually.
I found an old diary from when I was little. I loved writing and I used to write everything down. In it I questioned why everyone else’s moms hugged them and were excited to see them every day but mine was always mad at me. In it I asked why my mom didn’t love me and I didn’t understand what I did wrong. I even wrote “I’ll do better. I’ll be perfect and maybe she will love me.” I was in fourth grade when I wrote this. To this day as a 37 year old, I still have never heard my mother tell me she loves me. That’s a feeling I never want my children to ever have. I never want my love for them to be questioned. I want them to wake up every morning knowing I love them more than anything in the world and go to bed knowing that same thing.
It’s taken me quite a few years, but I’ve learned it’s ok to let your kids have and talk about their feelings. It doesn’t make them weak. It actually makes them stronger and more self aware. Constant threatening or belittling causes more damage than good. It instills a constant fear in the child which can cause anxiety to roll over in other life situations. I’ve also learned the strength in words. Telling your kids you love them and are proud of their victories and even their failures, will have such a positive impact on how they view themselves and their ability to try again at something in the future.