Ty Phillips helps us handle those moments when we feel like screaming.
I don’t like you daddy!
Eventually, every parent is going to hear these soul crushing words. As our children grow older, their emotions become more volatile as they discover their own will, desires and wishes coming into conflict with what mom and dad say is OK or not OK. As a parent who struggles with chronic illness, the feeling of being beat down is ever present.
When my daughter got mad at me because I decided the kitchen counter wasn’t a good place to pretend surf, she quickly realized that she didn’t like me. And she said so. At times like these, our understanding of how fleeting emotions can be is a great reminder for us; a practice of understanding our own emotions.
My wife did this; my friend said that, my boss put me into this situation. We will be faced on a daily basis with situations that conflict with our desires. We will see our anger rising, our verbal barrage of violence and hate thrown upon the heads of those who oppose our will.
I don’t love my wife. I don’t like my friends. I hate you.
Our ire rises quickly and in most cases, falls just as fast. We are then faced with doubts and regrets about our own actions—or more succinctly put—our reactions.
When our children get upset and lack that sense of impulse control that we pride ourselves on, they lash out. We know they don’t mean it, and regardless of the hurt it may cause, and we forgive them and move on knowing that within moments they will be seeking out our attention, climbing on our backs and painting our faces with permanent marker when we accidentally doze off.
Being mindful of the fleeting nature of emotions is vital for being a healthy parent, and just as much, a healthy member of society. Everyone we meet faces the same fears and doubts that we do. We all seek that notion of security and happiness. We all react out of fear and say and do things we regret. Knowing this, it is wise to allow unwise comments to come and go and to be able to fairly judge the person instead of their fears.
We often judge others based on our notions of what is just, fair, and moral. Yet when push comes to shove, a hard look at our own actions shows us that we frequently don’t live up to our own judgments. The Buddha said to love all beings like a mother loves a child. In this simple notion we should reflect in how soft we are with our own children and ourselves. We have the ability to react in the same manner with those we interact with on a daily basis.
It’s easy to make the excuse, “they should have known better,” and easier still to make up every, “but …” or “what if …” excuse we can think of. The hard truth though, is that change starts within our own hearts. If we are unable to reach out an understanding heart—a compassionate hand to those who falter and fail just as we do—then we have no right to expect it of others.
To love all as a mother loves a child. It is a beautiful step. A step I believe that we can all take together.