I was reading Dear Abby one day. A woman wrote a letter about how her divorce (and prodding from a bitter ex-husband) changed the way her loving daughters acted toward her and it got me thinking about unconditional love. I felt really bad for her and wondered how could all three of her daughters change their attitude. I knew that something is wrong here that went beyond the surface of just sparing ex’s.
I thought about my own clients and realized something important.
I do thousand of reading and I do know that parents rarely change their parental attitude (unless of health issues). Ironically, children sometimes change their attitude toward parents, and most women, when asked, will say they don’t want to become their mother. But ‘becoming like mom’ is a far cry from not loving one’s mom. For some people unfortunately, they find that they have very little in common with their mother and simply don’t connect. Likewise, over time, the mother starts to realize they don’t like their kids either. How sad is that?
Personally, I can’t imagine not loving my mother or mother-in-law, or my children. I love them unconditionally and I’m there for them. But some people just don’t have the patience or they forgot about unconditional love. Believe it or not, I have clients that ask me when a parent will die so they can live their life in peace. What’s truly sad is when the parent finally does died, the child might have 5 seconds of joy, but in the end they realize what they’ll be missing and have a million questions they forgot to ask when that person was still alive. Amazingly enough, the biggest comment I get FROM the deceased parent on the other side is that they loved their children unconditionally, but those kids never took the time to see it.
So how does this cycle stop? It stops with you actually…
If you want things to be different for you and your children then you need to have patience now and express your love and support for them while you’re still alive. Children learn what they are taught. It’s that simple. So kids who grow up in a household with thoughtful communication become thoughtful communicators… and they learn how to love unconditionally. That’s a lesson the divorcee in the Dear Abby column learned a bit too late. The great news is though, if we can all teach these values of communication and unconditional love to our kids then the next generation will be a better one.