One may ask, “Why should I love loudly?” Well, have you ever been enjoying a beautiful piece of pre-recorded music, and then, all of a sudden, there is a pesky interruption? It may be a door bell, or the telephone, a request to perform some task that could be done at a time more convenient for you, or whatever causes you to be distracted from your enjoyment of the music…your contentment with a little bit of peace and satisfaction; your serenity. The only way to re-focus on the music and your statement, “I’m busy in my moment of serenity with my music…leave me alone,” is to turn up the volume to eleven and blast your tunes.
Parents have a tendency to be strongly influenced by their social surroundings. Often, these surroundings may appear to be providing feedback to the parents that they are inferior or not quite “good enough” parents. This may happen while out for meal with the family and the child accidently spills. The parent may feel as if all eyes in the restaurant are on them, and when the waitress comes to help clean up, the parent remarks, “I just can’t take him anywhere,” or “He is such a klutz.” The child is hearing, “My parent doesn’t really want to go anywhere with me,” and “I’m not okay…there’s something wrong with me that my mom or dad doesn’t love.”
As a counselor, when I hear parents explain to me that when they have made these potentially disparaging remarks in front of their children,
it’s okay because the child knows that he is loved. This is usually told to me right after I have separately interviewed their child, who tells me he just wishes his parent would love him again. When I ask the child why he thinks his parent doesn’t love him anymore, he cites remarks that the parent made at the restaurant, or to the neighbor’s parents, or the teacher at school. Usually, remarks that were meant to cover up the parent’s embarrassment for the child’s natural mistakes. In other words, the parent takes responsibility for the child’s learning process when he makes a mistake, but in turn makes the child feel like he is the mistake, not the person who is learning from their errors.
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When this happens, a child needs for the parents’ volume of love to be turned to eleven so he can know that the parent loves him. This is usually done by the child acting out or making some really unnecessary mistakes until the parent asks the child, “What’s going on?” This is when the parent needs to hear the child say, “I don’t think you love me anymore,” and the parent needs to ask, “Why?” instead of giving the patent response, “Of course I do!”
When a parent listens to his or her child’s perceptions of the parent’s statements that cause the child to feel un-loveable, then the parent will know it’s time to turn up their volume of love for the child so the child isn’t distracted by the parent’s thoughtless statements of the child’s character.
This piece was contributed to the Love Loudly movement by Mark E. Nathanson, Ph.D., CDAAC, RAS. Mark is a Clinical Director, Consultant to the National Institute of Justice, and Federal Grant Peer Reviewer, and Board Member for the Association of Christian Alcohol and Drug Counselors Institute (ACADCI) and Cherished.