I came back from work and found Kate in tears. After a big cuddle and sitting with her, I asked her what was wrong.
She had an argument with her brother and he had said to her, “I wish you were never born!”
“Mummy, does everyone in the family dislike me?”
That really took me by surprise. Such a sad thing to hear, but it was an eye-opener into a child’s world.
That Kate, who is loved and doted on by so many, can feel this way.
I went through our family members one by one.
Do you think Mummy loves you?
Why do you think so?
“Because you always tell me and you do many things for me.”
Do you think Daddy loves you?
“Yes! He takes me swimming and goes on the slide with me and he makes us yummy BBQ on the weekends.”
We went through the rest of her siblings and I was surprised how she thinks that one of her sisters did not love her!
“Jie jie scolds me all the time and does not spend time having fun with me.”
That really got me thinking, because it pretty much summed up my first 10 years with the kids! Yikes.
I tried to get Kate to understand why her older sister always corrects her, but she still did not feel that her sister loved her.
We talked about her brother who said those hurtful words to her and I pointed out the times when he cared for her. I tried to get her to see it from his point of view, that he must be feeling neglected as well. He was the youngest for 6 years before she came along, and now she is the one getting all the attention and love from everyone.
I had a lot to reflect upon over the weekend.
As parents, we assume that our children know that we love them. We also hope that we have brought the siblings up to love one another. But it may not necessarily be so. And behind the hurtful words could be a cry for help.
I remember vividly a conversation with one of my daughter’s classmate. Before her O levels, she said to me, “Auntie, I don’t think my mum loves me. When I go home with a good grade, she is very happy. When I get a bad grade, she scolds me and is in a bad mood the whole week. What am I to her?”
What made me sad upon this reflection is that despite us knowing that we should be giving our children unconditional love, do our children feel our unconditional love?
When we get angry at them for their misbehaviour, yell at them or cane them, they must surely be thinking that we don’t love them at those times. My poor older kids went through so much of that from the hubs and I.
With Kate, we have learnt to control our extreme outbursts and we don’t yell or spank her. I make it a point to tell her even during those moments when I am scolding her, that no matter what, I still love her, every single day, every single moment.
It also hit me again, that despite our older children (upper primary or secondary) looking like they don’t need us or rather spend time in their rooms, they do need to be shown just as much love, but in different ways. It is tough trying to find time to see to the needs of so many kids. And as they go through the different phases from being a child to a tween, from a tween to a teenager, what worked before may not anymore.
The more I parent, the more aware I get, the more I feel I fall short of being a good parent.
The only thing that keeps me hopeful is that we have parented them to be resilient and despite all the mistakes and terrible parenting they have faced from us in the early years when we didn’t know better, somehow they have turned out not too badly.
I’m also glad that I’ve come so far in my own parenting journey that instead of marching over to my son to give him a good talking to for speaking to his little sister that way, I am able to work through with them calmly to unpack the intentions and emotions behind their outbursts.
And that’s something to rejoice about! One day at a time, one step at a time, and we will get there 🙂
Lesson #5: Passion vs Family
Lesson #6: Finding our children’s gifts and talents
Lesson #7: Teach our children compassion by little actions
Lesson #9: What must kids do for us to stop pushing them over the edge?
Lesson #10: Who’s selfish? The kids or me?
Lesson #11: Confronting death teaches you about life
Lesson #12: To measure our lives in love
Lesson #13: The day they fly
Lesson #14: Do our kids even know we love them?
Lesson #20: What does it take to keep a marriage going?
Lesson #21: All that glitters is not gold