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Monday, May 21, 2012

Five things that can hurt a child's heart.


{update: Since I wrote this last night, I wanted to add that this is in no way to induce guilt.  I am talking about significant, repetitive cases here, where people do not realize they are affecting their child, not the fleeting moments of frustration that we work hard to avoid and correct.  No one is perfect and I am surely not one to judge.  
The purpose of writing this was to raise awareness. }

I want to start with the disclaimer that I am not a professional therapist,
but I have learned a lot {and am still learning} from the life I had growing up.

I am not going to revisit it here, but suffice it to say, I have dealt with
some heavier things as a child.

Experience can teach you oh so very much.  

I know sometimes here, in my space, I talk about things with passion and fire.
Especially when it comes to being a mom and how we can impact our children.

I feel like there is this pervasive nonchalant, tinged highly with sarcasm, talk about motherhood lately.  I get it, I am not sitting on my high horse above it.  
We tend to resort to it when we are 
exhausted, tired, and even at times I think people do it because hey,
that's what the cool kids are doing.  
Yet, there is always a gnawing pit in my stomach...
I hope they are just kidding.

For the record, I think most are, and I do have a massive sense of humor,
but sometimes things just aren't funny once you've seen the other side.

Children are resilient to an extent, but we have the power to do damage.

Even moms and dads with the best intentions possible, myself totally included,
can hurt their child's heart immensely.

Here are five things that can really damage a child's sense of self and security. 

Calling a child negative names.  About a year ago, and not solely for this reason but it was a contributing factor, I had to end a friendship because a friend could not stop talking negatively about her son.  The last straw was when she called him a bum because he did not want to play a sport she enrolled him in.  While saying it with a touch of humor, I could tell she really meant it, and those words just kept echoing through my head.  
What if he heard that and does he?  

Wishing your child was different at their core.  This is a tough one because when you have a child that isn't like you or is different than you imagined...where did they come from? can be hard sometimes to relate to them.  Struggling with that is not what I am talking about here.  I am talking about wanting them to be different, intrinsically different from who they are and who God created them to be.  It's so important to stop and think, what message am I sending if I am telling my child who they are is not good enough for me?

Choosing a favorite.   I have read in more than one place lately that it's natural to have a favorite child and it's not really a big deal...really?  Let me tell you how it feels to not be the favorite child...completely and utterly horrible.  I have been there and when you are a little soul, you do not understand that it has absolutely nothing to do with you.  You think if I just try hard enough I'll win them over, which creates a people-pleasing child who loses sense of who they are.  In your own mind, you may love that one of your children is super cuddly or that one listens and wants to help, and those feelings are totally normal.  The issues lies in that really can never be the basis for how much love you show or give.  

 While I do think it's completely normal for siblings to tease one another about being the favorite, that's really all it should be, unfounded lighthearted teasing.

Basing the love you give your child on what they do for you.  Wow I hope I can come back to this and read it God-willing in about twenty-five years.  I have seen so many relationships with children my age and their parents deteriorate {including mine and my husband's} exactly for this reason.  Showing love, care, concern, for the child who does for you {in one specific way} child may be closer in proximity, more financially able, whatever the case may be.  It's tough to type this one because it doesn't matter how old you are, you are still the parent and you have to love your child unconditionally.  I realize I speak prematurely, before my children have made bad choices and decisions with lasting consequences.  My prayers are for these occasions even now, BUT I hope I can always remember I am the parent.  What if my heavenly Father only loved me for what I did for him?  

Letting your child believe they are responsible for your happiness.  No child should have this weight on their shoulders.  When our children were born did we finally realize how much love our hearts could hold?  Yes.  Do they makes us laugh and beam with pride, of course.  Do we owe them to not hang our happiness on them...absolutely.  I remember trying to get my father to laugh and if I could then he would be happy at it would be a good day.  That was my goal.  I would put everything into it.  That is so not a childhood. Yes, kids need to see emotions and some of the real aspects of life, but they also need to see us happy, enjoying life, and completely feel like they are the biggest part of our happiness, but not responsible for it, there is a big difference.  

These may seem like really obvious things, but I have dealt with each one and let me tell you, it sucks.  As a mom of five, I want to do everything in my power to not ever have my children feel this way.  It can take a long time to heal.

I'll be back soon with a less intense topic {smile}. 
Thanks for listening friends!


  1. Thanks Michelle,I think this was great. My oldest is two and I am realizing she listens (and comprehends) more than I think, so this really spoke to me. I would hate for my words(and actions) to be a source of pain for her now and down the road.

  2. Nicely put Michelle. I think it's a great reminder to embrace the individuality of our kids and remember that these children we are raising are a gift from God and we need to treat them as such.

  3. I really appreciate this post. Such an important reminder. One thing I sometimes catch myself doing when I am harried and exhausted rolling my eyes at some of my 2 year old's more "age appropriate" behavior. I always feel horrible when I find myself mid-roll and stop immediately because Oh! how I do not ever want to communicate that attitude to my precious son. I never want him to feel like his emotions or perceived needs are trivial, or that he is nothing but a bother. We can wound our children so easily without really trying to. Mindful parenting isn't always easy, but so necessary!


I so appreciate your sweet thoughts and thank you for sharing. I always try to reply whether it be to your email or on one of your blog posts! Wishing you a wonder*filled day! Michelle

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