April 24

Another Real Love Miracle

April 24, 2017

Parenting

I received a message from a mother of four, who has been practicing Real Love in her family for a couple of years. “I am sitting here,” she wrote, “with a big smile on my face. Feeling so peaceful. I’m actually talking about Real Love with people at work. Who would have thought it? And I’m not having to lie about myself so they’ll like me. Why would I lie if I already know I’m loved?”

“This is pretty huge for you,” I responded. “You might print this out so you can read it on the occasions when you forget about the love you have. How are things going with Alan (her husband)?”

“The more calm I am, the more he feels loved.”

“That is quite an understatement. When you just look at him with irritation, he withers away, turns to dust before your eyes.”

“I’m beginning to learn that,” she said. “If I get angry or choose to be a victim, I’m dead, and so is our relationship. I have so much to learn, sometimes it seems scary. I wonder why a loving relationship with my own husband seems to be the hardest for me to learn.”

“You’re with Alan the most, and your expectations are the greatest. An intimate relationship requires having a complete realization that irritation NEVER works. Ever. And then you commit never to indulge your anger again. How about your kids?”

“There are so many small stories that seem small but yet so BIG! In just the last few weeks I’ve noticed a change between James, 10, and Evan, 6. They actually seek each other out to play. For a day or so, it did go back to some of the old fighting—yelling, kicking—but I noticed a big change in James. I could see that when josh was calm—mostly feeling loved by me—his relationship with Evan was peaceful and easy, even if Evan was having one of his tantrums. But when Josh feels scared and empty—and he feels that way more if I’m tense or irritated, even if it’s not at him—my goodness, they can fight! Kind of reminds me of Alan and me, ya think?”

“Yes, I do think so, but you’re seeing progress. If you can stay calm—trusting in the love you have—it will continue.”

“About six weeks ago, I spoke with Evan about how we have discussed many times the hitting, yelling, kicking, and throwing things in the house. We’ve tried talking and consequences, but the behavior continued. So I explained how his anger is my fault—a result of not loving him—but that now we have to try something more memorable for him. So, I said, ‘You do not have to stop being angry, but when you don’t use your words and instead show your anger with hitting or yelling or whatever, you don't get to be in my house, where you’re dangerous. You can do those things, but only outside.’”

(This mother is brilliant. We can’t just tell children not to be angry—completely unreasonable—but we CAN require that they express it with words, not with unfocused physical or verbal violence.)

“Since then,” she continued, “he has had some trips outside, where its dark and cold in the winter. Most recently he was outside for three minutes with a t-shirt, pants, and socks, and we were still getting like eight inches of snow. I opened the door and smiled as I asked him if he was ready to come back in and speak in a civilized way. He came in, and I asked him how he was doing. He said he didn't like it, and I agreed: ‘I wouldn't like it either. Remember, it’s up to you what you choose to do, but it seems a little silly to want to be out in the cold.’”

“Wow,” I said. “Perfect loving and teaching.”

I know that the ONLY reason these consequences are working is that I am not angry, mad or upset. I really don’t want to throw his angry little butt outside. I’m just loving him and describing what will happen if he behaves badly. It’s a pretty matter of fact transaction—amazing!! The other day Evan didn’t get ready for bed on time, and after hearing about the consequence of that choice, he said, ‘I hate it when I don't watch my time at night and miss my snack. I feel angry about it.' I said, 'Way to go. You used your words. I’m happy that you tell me how you are feeling.' He so badly wanted to be mad at me and scowl, but he looked up at me with those wonderful eyes and pursed lips, and even though he tried not to, he SMILED and GIGGLED! Ha, it was cute!”

This is loving and teaching. This is courageous and caring parenting. Such parents are little appreciated as heroes in this world.

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