I wrote about how I knew that I needed to give her more attention so that she would feel my love through my actions more than through my gifts of stuff. I had strategies for showing her how much I love her. I felt smart and thoughtful and on the ball as I wrote about how I would make her feel loved.
I felt superior. Yeah, really. I felt superior to all the people I know who just keep throwing more stuff at their kids. Yet even as I hit Publish I felt inauthentic. There was really something missing from that story. Yes, I knew I needed to give Anna more attention and I even had a few strategies for connecting with her more, but I was just missing something that I couldn't quite nail down and express fully.
Then today I read a fabulous piece by Jen, over at A Path Less Taken. It's called Entitlement. She writes of how she didn't grow up with a sense of Entitlement, in spite of been given to in abundance as a child and she explains this by saying that she had a strongly connected relationship with her parents. I love what she says about giving abundantly to our children:
Why not give freely and abundantly to your children just as you would to any person that you love? I want to give all that I can to my kids, just as my parents gave all that they could to me. Not because they've "badgered" me into it, not because I want them to like me, and not because it keeps them quiet (all reasons I see touted over and over again...) but because it feels good and right to give to those we love. To give our time, our attention, our love, our companionship. To give our acceptance and our unconditional support. And yes, to give when we can those toys, games, and "things" that make their lives a little more fun or interesting or exciting. We give freely to our kids, and they in turn give freely to others.This is so much more than generosity, isn't it? I have often said that generosity is not one of my greatest characteristics. I tend to be not just selfish but also moralistic: Why should I give ________? I don't remember anyone falling all over themselves to help me when I needed it. Let them help themselves.
In reading Jen's words I was able to figure out what I was missing in my thoughts about my relationship with Anna. I was thinking that if I gave her more attention she would stop asking me for more stuff.
Yeah. Pretty sneaky and manipulative, eh?
It feels good and right to give to those we love.
Wow. The reason my previous thoughts on The Culture of More felt inauthentic to me was because I was trying to achieve the specific goal of making daughter stop asking for more stuff. I was so wrong. It DOES feel good and right to give those we love. And I love my daughter more than I can even explain!
When I am holding back from giving to her---whether it's a toy or attention or more honey on her toast--I am actually holding back my love from her. I am able to admit that honestly now. There is something about her need for me to give to her abundantly that awakens in me a fear of intimacy. A fear of being taken advantage of. A fear of being taken for granted. A fear that nothing I ever do for her will be enough.
So now I have to go back--Go Deeper--and figure out where that fear is coming from. Am I afraid of being part of a relationship with my daughter where I feel free to give to her abundantly in every way as an expression of my love for her? NO. My fear is that I am unworthy of being the recipient of that kind of love.
So where do I go from here? I offer abundant love to my daughter. I open myself to the possibility of accepting abundance from those who love me. I unburden myself of the idea that I am unworthy. I free my heart to heal past wounds and to seek greater connections.
Do conflicts with your children ever cause you to examine the fears that you hold deep inside? How do you reconnect?
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