I saw this little cartoon on facebook a few days ago. I’ve tried to go back and find it with no luck. It was of a mother sitting on the couch beside her child. The thought bubble above the mother’s head was full of questions like, “Am I good enough?” “What else could I be doing?” The thought bubble above the child’s head was “You are amazing. You are my most favorite person in the world.” This is so true. As parents we worry about whether we are doing a good job at this parenting thing, while our kids are just loving us.
This cartoon was designed to make parents feel better. Your child loves you, you must be doing things right. It made me smile for a minute but left me thinking. Kids love their parents pretty much no matter what. As an education major in college, I took classes in child psychology and sociology. I learned that children of mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive parents love their parents. It’s a crazy relationship that doesn’t require that parents be good at their “job” in order to be loved. But that’s not really the end game, is it? We aren’t nurturing, reading, preparing and constantly trying to improve so that our children love us. We are doing all of these things so that they learn to love themselves. We work tirelessly to teach them how to be good people, how to love themselves, how to love others. We read articles and books on parenting. We turn to other parents for advice. We pray. A LOT.
And we won’t know if we are doing a good job until they are all grown up. We are working on faith here! We see tiny glimpses of hope; when they share a coveted toy with a sibling or friend, when they bring a blankie to a crying sister, when they are genuinely excited about others successes. We praise them and give ourselves a brief pat on the back because maybe they are listening.
Your child loves you. There is no doubt about it. But all of those questions about whether we are doing a good job, are relevant. We can always be better and we should always be trying. They are worth it.