By Janine Rees
12 July 2016
My last words to my children each morning as they hop out of the car and run into school are always…”love you, be kind”. I think those two words, love and kindness, should be the guiding forces in their lives. I try my best to model love and kindness to them. Sometimes I slip and raise my voice, get angry or annoyed or behave selfishly then I berate myself for being a bad mother. Then I remember that I, like everyone else, am human and I make mistakes. Like everyone, I have strengths and I have weaknesses.
I have learned though, that the most important thing I can do for my children is to love myself. Not in a vain or conceited way, but in an “I’m perfect just the way I am” kind of a way. If I don’t believe that about myself then how are my children to believe it about themselves, but it is as true for them, they are perfect the way they are. They are unique. There is no one in the world quite like them. This is just a fact. They are not more important than anyone else and they are no less important than anyone else. I want them to know that they are equal to all others. I often remind them that we are all the same, I like to add that everyone poops just like them, even the Queen! One of my greatest friends, who was a nurse, used to say… “if you don’t shit, you die!”
That friend had a great sadness in her life, and such a low opinion of herself. She was one of the smartest people I knew but she could not break out of her conditioning. She compared herself to others all the time. She felt she had to look a certain way, act a certain way for acceptance. As many do, she bought into the societal images of perfection that we have all been bombarded with throughout our lives. She did not know how wonderfully brilliant and talented she was. She was perfect the way she was but was always chasing something external, something that couldn’t ever make her happy because she didn’t love herself. No one could convince her how much she was loved and needed and in the end, very sadly, it killed her.
At the moment our world is an uneven playing field. There is much injustice in the world and it can break your heart if you dwell on such injustice. If you believe you are less than others you are encouraging that injustice to continue. If you believe you are better than others you are perpetuating and supporting injustice. I believe it is everyone’s civic duty to love themselves. It is the first step to equality. How can you love others if you do not love yourself? How can you be kind to others if you are filled with hatred and bitterness?
No matter what has happened to you in your life, you need to deal with it or risk passing the pain onto others. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “you need to sort your shit”. Don’t even think of having children until you have sorted your shit. If you have children and you love them then you need to gather some courage and sort your shit! Love yourself for your children’s sake. Love your children unconditionally. Help them to find their strengths, help them to work on their weaknesses, but let them know they are not these labels. They are loved and perfect no matter what.
It takes great self control and strength to be loving and kind. It’s hard to love and be kind to others who are not so to you, but it’s necessary. I’m not saying that you need to spend every waking moment with others who are not kind. It would be much easier to avoid them, but not always possible. In those instances we need to remember our humanity and shine some sunlight on those who are suffering. Give them your unconditional love and best wishes and hopefully some of it will stick. No one knows what pain or trauma another lives with until they break open and free themselves of it.
As a teacher I recognise that antisocial or misbehaviour is a cry for help. I believe anger is always a cry for help, it’s an emotion telling us that something is not ok, something is hurting us. These children need love more than ever. Children who are ‘behaviourally challenged’ definitely do not need time out, they need TIME IN! Time in with a loving, caring, nurturing adult who can guide and model self control. Whether the issue is sensory overload; misfiring neurological connections; self loathing; sadness; past trauma; sugar overload… Whatever the case may be; love, acceptance and help are what is needed.
Practical ways to go about sharing the love:
- Don’t yell angrily at anyone, ever.
- Tell others of their strengths and let people know how much they mean to you.
- Express your feelings, it takes great courage to be able to communicate your needs.
- Love and accept yourself fully.
- Know that everyone is equal, you are worth no more and no less than anyone else.
- Teach and model all of the above to the children in your care.
Imagine what this world could be if every parent could share the gift of self love with their children. If every teacher could give this gift to each of their students (no more comparing children to one another and ingraining hierarchies) just imagine the places they could go and the things they could do. Imagine the self-actualisation and the shift in society if everyone could give this gift to themselves.
This post was inspired this morning by a child I witnessed (on social media) sharing the love. What a beautiful example for us adults. In the very next moment I watched a Ted Talk about love which brought me to tears. The links are below.
Touching moment distraught French fan gets hug from Portuguses boy
How to love and be love Billy Ward TEDxFoggyBottom