Sunday, September 05, 2004

(un)conditional love?

My son starts big school on Wednesday. Today I read this article by psychologist Oliver James in the Observer. I am going to cut it out and pin it up on my notice board and never forget what it says.

parents can easily forget that the point of education is to create fulfilled, creative adults, not exam-fodder. If they make love conditional on performance, it is a recipe for depression.

Took me a lot of hard work with my own psychologist to figure out that that's probably where my depression stems from, at least in part - my parents' love being conditional upon me being a good girl, doing well at school, doing as I should, etc. I'm doing my damnedest to make sure my son knows our love for him is unconditional. A while back I bought him this book, it's what we read on days when things haven't gone right and he's been in trouble and I've been shouty ....

No Matter What by Debi Gliori
 Posted by Hello

Small said
"I'm a grim and grumpy little Small
and nobody loves me at all"
"Oh Small" said Large "Grumpy or not,
I'll always love you, no matter what"

OK happier things now: today has been lovely and hot. Took O swimming this morning, spent this afternoon sitting on the balcony reading the papers. This ...
 Posted by Hello

... is my lovely balcony vegetable patch, from where we got the runner beans we had for tea tonight. There are loads of green tomatoes, so fingers crossed the weather stays hot through September so they ripen. And more fingers crossed for my 1 pumpkin to ripen (and not fall off on to the head of a passer by).


Trinity said...

God hunny you're such a great mum. I think I'm crap. I'm so laid back that I don't think they try. But as long as they enjoy their school years thats all that matters because truth is, you only start learning when you get out there in the big bad world.
Both my kids are nervous wrecks and they don't need me to add the pressure.
Also two weeks till you come stay and I can't wait!!! hugs and kisses

Stephen said...

You know, back in the day I would have said that I was in the same position. My parents were rubbish at showing their affection, and I felt that they resented me as I didn't get the results, etc, of my younger sibs. When my first marriage broke up, I really thought they would disown me as a failure, having failed at being married and therefore now being morally bereft in their eyes (I thought).

However, I could not have been more wrong, they welcomed me back (my mother even used the immortal words 'I never liked her anyway') and I started to realise that they did love me, they were just crap at showing it.

Then, on my fathers 70th birthday, we threw a big surprise party for him, at which he made an improptu speech to us, infront of all his freinds and relations, saying he was rubbish at telling us how he felt and how proud he was of all of us, how all of us had done a better job of parenting than he had and how much he loved us all.

Just before he died, alomst the last coherent thing he said to me before the level of morphine reached the poit where he was no longer coherent, was how proud he was of all the things I'd done and still managed to be a good father, too.

And now, I have had two children of my own go through school, and mess up by not working hard enough (or at all) when they were quite capable of getting the results they needed to prgress - I don't love them any the less, but that may not be the way they see it, as to a child any pressure to perform at school is easily countered with the argument 'you hate me, you are horrid to me, I did my best'. The other side of this coin (and it's what has happened with my eldest daughter, courtesy of her mother) is that without pressure or criticism the child can get into the mind-set of "Exams don't matter, I'm good enough as I am, my parents tell me so". The whole thing is a minefield.

It is much easier when they are 4.

But my point is, maybe you misjudge your parents - I know I did mine (but my mother still disapproves of the state of the house, my finances, my choice of wife, etc etc). All parents expect the best from their offspring, and some struggle to deal with any deviation from the absolute best. It's part of loving someone, after all, to see them as unflawed and better than all the others...

And typing this post made me cry, I'm not ashamed to admit.

Trinity said...

Hugs for you Steve. We all think you're aces. So wonder what the answer is? I could have done much better at school but there was this stumbling head. I couldn't get past the idea I couldn't do it. Now I'm Wonder Woman. I can do anything!
You know what? we are all good people and we love our kids and we care about each other and all sorts of stuff and I think everything will work out ok in the end.
Love you all

clarrie said...

What Stephen wrote nearly made me cry, too. My parents do love me and are proud of me, even if they don't particularly like some of the ways I chose to live my life. And I don't blame them for my life being how it is, nor do I want to blame them for my depression. They did their best as parents, which is all any of us can do, and they did alot of things right. What I'm trying to do is to do my best as a parent, too, and that includes reflecting on and learning from how I was parented, the good and the bad of that.