LIKE – such a lukewarm word, so tame; not strong, like LOVE.
You love your child; more precisely, you LOVE your child. Love comes naturally to a parent. Nature ensures it – your helpless infant needs you! He depends on you for everything – he can’t make it without you. And you (we all) love to be needed (there’s that ‘love’ word again!) – it makes you feel special.
Besides, after a short while, the helpless infant begins to respond, to engage with you, to smile and laugh and play with you, to connect with you. Love for your child comes easily to you as a parent, and once it comes, it stays right through your life.
But do you LIKE your child?
“Umm – what kind of question is that? I mean, I love my child – that is the main thing, right? What do you mean ‘like’ my child? Like is unimportant, it’s a small word. People like all kinds of things and people, but they love (LOVE) only a few things and people, and I’m telling you, I LOVE my child,” you say.
I agree – Love is the big one. But I believe LIKE is far more important, especially if you want to live happily with your child.
Think of your friends – people you want to spend time with. Chances are, you don’t love them; but you most certainly like them. Being with them, around them makes you feel good. Maybe because they are amusing, or agreeable, or ‘nice’, or warm, or friendly, or sympathetic – whatever the reason(s), being with them is something you look forward to.
It is very likely that the people you like like you right back. (Not on facebook – in real life. 🙂 ) For at least a couple of reasons. First, who doesn’t like to be liked? If you know that someone likes you, you tend to like them. Second, you are more agreeable, more amenable, more open to people you like than you are with those you may not like as much. This makes you more likeable.
Essentially, you get along well with people you like. Of course there are differences of opinion – but the very fact of your liking each other gives each of you the space to air those differences without shaking the foundations of your friendship.
Back to your child. You LOVE your child, but most of the time, your love gets in the way of your getting along with your child. You have your own agenda “for the ‘good’ of your child”. 🙂 ! And your child has her own agenda (who knows what that is?), and love is buried deep, if not thrown by the wayside, as both your wills clash from morning to night.
Ah, but if you LIKE your child – what a difference that makes! Here’s a person you enjoy being with – never mind that she is your child. You like her for who she is, for the way she looks at the world, the way she speaks thinks feels. You appreciate many qualities about her – you forget that she is your child – you meet her and spend time with her as you would with anyone else that you like.
Of course your child loves you! He has no choice – children know no other way to be than to love their parents. It is we – the parents – who teach our children non-loving ways of relating to us. But does your child like you? (Does this sound like blasphemy? I bet this question hasn’t struck you before! 🙂 )
If you find things to LIKE about your child, your child will be able to like you right back! He will accept you as you are – he will appreciate many things about you – things he may or may not have in common with you.
He will talk to you and you will listen, because you enjoy spending time with him. You will speak and he will pay attention, because he enjoys being with you. You will find things to do that you both enjoy. And you will also agree to disagree on many issues without your making heavy weather of them (in the sense of pulling rank: “I’m your Mom/Dad and I say so, therefore you have to…”). You will look forward to spending time together.
You will get along with each other – and be able to live in relative happiness from one day to the next.
Figure out what you like about your child. Identify the qualities you appreciate and enjoy no matter who you find them in. You like honest people? People who make you laugh? People who are enthusiastic? People who are creative? People who are active? Well, your child has some of these qualities too! Forget that he is your child. Focus on the qualities that you like in him.
If you don’t LIKE your child already, teach yourself to do so. And as you begin to like your child, you will find that life goes much more smoothly for you. Here’s to carefree parenting – by you! 🙂