Loving When You Don’t Like

Mornings can be an adventure at our house. We have a bunch of non-morning people, which is a polite way of saying "cranky before 8am." And, at times, one of my cranky little ducklings will do something one of the other cranky little ducklings.  I've been known to say any of the following: "Stop kicking your sister" or "You may not hit your brother" and once even "Biting is not OK in our family!" But when I'm saying this for the second or third or millionth time in a morning, I always want to try to make it clear to my kids that although I don't LIKE what they're doing, it doesn't mean I don't love them.

Who we are and what we do are two different things.  This tends to get blended together often.  I've had parents in my office tell me that their children say, "If you don't accept my choices, you aren't accepting me." I'd disagree with this. There is a difference between the person and the action. True, our actions can say a lot about who we are, and those actions do impact us over time. Virtues are just an ingrained pattern of making the good choice. Bad habits form over many instances of choosing something bad, and don't just set in after one mistake. 

So with this in mind, it's possible to love our children (or anyone in our life) without condoning every decision they make. By extension, we can disagree with a person's action and not have that be a rejection of the person.

Part of parenting is being able to say, - clearly, calmly, and compassionately - I love you but the choice you’re making or the behavior you’re engaging in, is not OK. By separating the person from the behavior, we can guide and encourage our kids in the most loving way possible.

Today take the opportunity to let your children know that they are always good, even when the decisions they make aren't.