Your Children Aren’t Obligated To Love You
“To get, you have to give.”
It’s a phrase uttered in every situation where someone inherently expects to receive something without understanding the necessity for reciprocation. Respect, for example. Many people are under the belief that respect is something earned. Hence, the “giving.”
A standard workplace works on this principle: to get paid, you have to give work. The same goes for shopping: to take something home with you, you have to give them your money. It even works the same way in today’s dating scenarios: in order to “get some,” you have to “give something.” Whether that “thing” being given is time, effort, or money, something has to be given in order for a certain end to be received. This simple statement permeates our culture in every single way.
Yet, many parents believe they are entitled to their children’s love.
And it’s not true.
Your child did not choose to be born to you. Your child didn’t even choose to be born. They had no say in the family they were born into, or what issues they might come out having, or even what issues they might develop along down the line. They had no voice in it whatsoever.
You are not entitled to your child’s love simply because they were born to you.
It’s a statement that doesn’t sit well with many people, but it’s true. Your child has no choice but to innately trust you. Your child trusts you because, for the first nine months of his or her existence, they were wrapped tightly within your body, safe from the harms and the sadness this world has to offer.
Then, they are born, and you hold them in your arms as they innately rely on you for food.
For a home.
You provide those things, and that child begins to associate comfort with you. But, if you neglect those aspects, your child begins to associate discomfort with you.
Then, they grow. They begin to crawl, and walk, and feed themselves with their hands and hold their own sippy cups. They have their first word, and their first sentence, and then their first friend, and pretty soon they are on their way to their first day at preschool. Throughout all of this, they rely on you. For the food they practice eating and the drink they practice drinking and the reinforcement of things they are learning as they grow. They rely on you for transportation to events and warm hugs after long days and reassurance that things are going to be alright.
And if you don’t provide it, that love never comes.
Sure, they might respect you merely for birthing them into the world, but that’s as far as it will go… Because you aren’t entitled to your child’s love. Bringing them into this world does not give you the right to demand their positive emotions.
Think about it this way: if you had a friend that constantly broke plans and stood you up on coffee dates, promised you things they never delivered on and consistently chose other people over you… Would you continue to be their friend? Would you continue to care about them?
If the answer is no, then why would you expect your child to be any different?
Loving our children isn’t an innate responsibility because we had them. We do have a choice, unfortunately. Loving our children lays the foundation for that love to be reciprocated. Respecting our children lays the foundation for that respect to be returned. And, guess what? Trusting our children lays the foundation for that trust to be returned.
“To get, you have to give.”
Why would we expect our children to be any different?
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