Why does it have to be one or the other?
Extra! Extra! Read all about it…Love Is All There Is and There Is Enough!
Let’s see if these two concepts can be combined into: There Is Enough Love For Everyone! Society teaches competition at every level, including love. Children are even taught, through concepts like sibling rivalry, that: parental love is limited, will be rationed, and is something for which to be fought.
My family recently experienced this, on a smaller scale, as my brother and sister-in-law brought a beautiful son into the world. Many people asked if my daughter was jealous of how excited the extended family was about the new baby. My answer was, “No! Why would she be?” The response: “Well, grandma’s attention will be divided.” Divided attention does not have to equate to hurting either person. In actuality, because of how we have exemplified love in our home as limitless, unconditional, and all-powerful – feeling jealous of a new baby, for whom she was so excited to meet and shower love upon herself – has never crossed her mind.
I think there are two possible ways to look at love: If you teach your children that when you have more people to love, the power of it is multiplied and there is more to go around, children will see love as limitless. They will not fear the addition of new people to their families. They will embrace them as adding new color, joy, and adventure to their life; rather than fearing that the new person can take something away from them. If, on the other hand, you teach your child that love is conditional, in short supply, or finite, then your child will feel threatened by new additions to their life.
While holidays may be different, get-togethers changed, and the attention of family members shared, it doesn’t have to be viewed in a negative light. As with everything else, how we chose to interpret the world influences our experience. We can help children look to the added richness of having a new baby in the family, the times they will share together, the excitement they have of getting to give love to another human, and of having the chance to teach what they know to someone new!
Instead of children walking through life feeling afraid of “who will grandma/mom/dad love more?” you can instill a feeling of peace that children have nothing to fear! My question to you, then, is, “Why does it have to be one or the other?” Why can’t we choose to teach our children that grandma can love all of her grandchildren equally? Why does one new cousin/sibling being born have to mean that the other child’s life is going to change for the worse? Can we create a world in which a child being born into a family is assumed to add beauty and love to the lives of the existing children rather than to add stress, strife, and jealousy?
Imagine the change society would experience if this generation of children grew up experiencing a world in which we don’t have to compete for the love of our families! They might just cooperate and enjoy the companionship of their siblings and cousins instead.
Imagine if that enlarged into children who didn’t feel the need to compete with each other for friendships! They might just find they can cooperate and enjoy friendship and camaraderie with all of their classmates.
Imagine a world, in which, instead of competing with each other to the point of backstabbing and undercutting to get “ahead,” children grow up understanding that cooperation, companionship, and assisting each other to move forward together helps us all in the end!
Again, I ask you…Why does it have to be one or the other? Isn’t it time we truly teach our children: There is enough love for everyone?
(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of www.cwgforparents.com. She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities. Her books are available at www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)