Hello friends, you know in a healthy home, children need to learn a balance between work and play life. All parents want their kids to grow up and be responsible adults who are capable of taking care of themselves. Sometimes parents have communicated to their children that their worth or acceptance is based on performance. Oftentimes it’s out of ignorance that parents do this, however parents actually wound their children by saying things like “Mommy won’t give you a hug until you’ve picked up your toys,” or “If you can’t sweep the yard better than that, you’re no son of mine!”
When children receive this message they develop an overly-dependent sense of responsibility and struggle with guilt when they don’t perform well. Their sense of identity is based on performance and achievement. Unfortunately, with the increase in single parent households the emotional needs of the child can easily be neglected as the remaining parent struggles to survive and make ends meet. Sometimes the developmental years involving play and socialization with peers are passed by as this child is only accepted only when he is doing something productive for the family. These children often grow up very quickly as they are thrust into the parentified role.
When a child takes on the role of a doer or performer, he grows up continuing in this role and often becomes a workaholic. While you may find some of societies highest achievers with this developmental history, a healthy upbringing involves a balance of both work and play. Even children can become weary, feel taken advantage of and feel empty or neglected. In a healthy home a child is accepted even when he isn’t doing something productive for the family. He is encouraged to develop a balance between work and play.
Take a moment and spontaneously go and hug your child, smother them with kisses and tell them how much you love them. Be intentional about doing it when they are not doing anything so that they can internalize your love just for what it is – not as a result of deeds done – but just for being your kid. We cannot accept who we really are unless we have been accepted by someone else first. Just as Christ has given us grace (which is described as “unmerited or undeserved favor”) give this gift of acceptance to your child as well. Acceptance is what happens when someone receives all of us in relationship – the good and not so good. By showing your child that you love and accept all of them – not just when they are doing or performing – you are giving them a precious gift allowing them to internalize that self-acceptance and become confident in who they are.
Your children will only be able to connect and relate to the extent in which you connect and relate with them. So pay attention to the messages you give them. Do you give love only when they empty the garbage, mow the lawn, iron their clothes, and get a straight A+ report card? Or do you withdraw at the slightest sign of weakness? Your words, tone, body language, actions – everything you do gives meaning to your child. Teaching them to have balance in all aspects of life is a wonderful gift that you can give them. Now pucker up and go pinch those precious cheeks! 🙂
Dr. Christy 🙂