Our kids can be masters at it.
I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking about this. It was this post from Mummy Issues Part 2 that sparked the train of thought, because it got me thinking about how much power our kids can have over us. (To clarify, this post got me thinking about my own kids; I am in no way judging or talking about Lee’s parenting or kids. I think she is a fabulous mum. It’s true. You should all go visit her! :))
But let me start from the beginning.
A few weeks ago, I told Taylah off for something. I can’t remember what or why, but I think there was some kind of negative consequence involved.
Not long after, I saw her wandering around the house with a hang dog expression on her face, and asked her what was wrong.
‘I don’t feel like anyone loves me,’ she said.
Of course, those words broke my heart. The thought that any child could grow up thinking that in their own home is nothing short of appealing, let alone my own dearly loved, and greatly prized daughter.
Being the good mother that I am, I of course sat down with her to talk about why she might be feeling this way, and really took on board everything she said. I then made it my personal mission to really work on making sure that her love tank was full, and she never felt like that ever again.
Fast forward a week or two, and after another incident, she said the same thing.
This time I was more upset than devastated. Concerned that my hard efforts hadn’t paid off.
Then it happened again.
This time, I just felt annoyed.
It was quite clear to me, that she was playing the manipulation game, and was winning quite successfully. She got in trouble, said she felt unloved, and although she still suffered the consequences for her initial actions, she had me work twice as hard afterwards to make her happy.
Pretty clever thinking if you ask me.
When she tried the variation of ‘I don’t feel like I’m a part of this family,’ on Thursday, she was immediately told off. Both boatman and I were present at the time and stated quite firmly, that she was not to say that again. She had made a bad choice, and had been told off, just like everyone else. The fact that she had been pulled up on her actions was proof that we loved her. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t care. Furthermore, it was not ok to blame us for her poor decision making. If she was going to choose to do the wrong thing, she would have to accept the consequences of her actions herself.
Plain and simple.
As I’ve thought more about this over the last few days, I see how destructive that manipulation can be to our family. When it boils right down to it, it is selfishness at the core; the desire to make her own problems someone else faults, and gain personal happiness at their expense. I can tell her that she is not to say that we don’t love her, but that only deals with the symptom and not the problem. I need to get to the heart of the problem, and encourage an ‘others first’ attitude, and demonstrate that selfishness, no matter what form it presents itself in, is never a good thing.
I’ve found that so many times, an ‘all of a sudden’ problem, is actually just a new way of presenting a heart attitude that has been wrong for a while. So whilst this manipulation is new, the issue is not. In fact we have been dealing with selfishness for quite a while, and whilst I could go into any number of examples of how that has presented itself, I don’t think that’s necessary. The fact of that matter remains that all of us are selfish from time to time; it just comes down to whether or not we are characterized by the behaviour most of the time.
And since that seems to be the prevailing attribute, it falls to me, as her mother, to look past the manipulation, and see a heart that need some work in humility.