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Choosing Love No Matter What Happens

“Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. 

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”

  • from The Prophet by Kahil Gibran 

How can we continue to love those who hurt us? For parents of children in recovery from addiction or other challenging behaviors, we might struggle to feel love when many other emotions hang over our heads. We might feel run down and exhausted after late nights dealing with multiple crises. Our kids can challenge our ability to express unconditional love to them when they are in a crisis. However, during a crisis, our kids need love the most.

Boundaries and Unconditional Love

Many parents might assume that unconditional love is like being a doormat. How can we continue to love our kids when they seem so reckless? When kids are getting into trouble, and we are running ragged from one place to the next, how can we express love during these situations?

Unconditional love is not about being a doormat to another person’s behavior. Determining consequences and expectations for our kids is an act of love. Often, our kids will not look at things this way. When we set limits, like curfews, time playing video games, or restricted phone usage, we are looking out for our kid’s best interests. Kids might yell, “I hate you!” or “You’re so unfair!” Kids might not realize the value of the limits we set until they are older. Remember to focus on the bigger picture when kids try tactics to manipulate emotions.

Keep Things in Perspective

Parents everywhere deal with challenges with their kids. As kids grow up, they are learning to deal with their emotions. When kids also have other issues, like trauma, depression, or anxiety, they might be communicating that something is going wrong. When they act out, remember that they might not know any better. Look for what needs the challenging behavior is fulfilling.

When we keep things in perspective, we can remember that our kids are not intentionally trying to hurt us. They are attempting to express that something is going wrong. Even when kids are trying to manipulate us, they are trying to meet an unmet need. Look for the need and help them find healthy ways to meet it. By looking at things from this perspective, we can keep calm and continue loving our kids to guide them to solutions.

Taking Care of Ourselves

A critical component of unconditional love is learning to love ourselves first. When we take care of ourselves, we can build emotional resilience to handle the challenges we face when our kids struggle. Activities of self-care can be critically important when handling stressful situations at home. We might need reminders to take breaks and check-in with ourselves. When we are not taking care of our needs, we cannot be there for our families.

When stress is too much for us to handle, we might need to reach out for additional support. Therapy and support groups can be helpful for parents dealing with troubled teens. A therapist can help develop coping skills for the challenging emotions that we face when trying to love our kids at their worst. Time and time again, our hearts are broken, as we are only human. To get through the current family crisis, we will have to accept and acknowledge these negative emotions to grow from our pain.

You Are Not Alone

You might feel alone in this struggle. You might start to resent your kid for the pain and suffering their behavior has caused. These thoughts and feelings can make unconditional love a challenge for sure! 

Sometimes, we need to reach out to others to remember that we are not alone. We might need to overcome shame or guilt over the challenges with our kids. We might feel uncomfortable admitting that things are getting difficult. We might feel so numb that we cannot express any affection to our kids or partner. 

When things get so complicated that we feel resigned to giving up, this is when we need to reach out for support. Remember to love yourself and let your love flow from within. Once you love and respect yourself, you can turn your love outward to your kids and your family. Unconditional love for your kid begins with accepting love for yourself.

How do we continue to love our kids when they continue to hurt us with their behaviors? Parents might feel challenged to express unconditional love when kids continually cause added stress in their lives. Parents might feel at their breaking points, numb from exhaustion—they feel like they have nothing left to give. Unconditional love is not without boundaries. By setting boundaries and expectations for your kid, you are showing them that you care. You want them to get better and find solutions to their problems. You are guiding them toward healthy ways to get their needs met. Parents might neglect their own needs when dealing with a troubled child. When we forget to show ourselves love and respect, we struggle to give love to others. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your kid, you might need additional support. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here for you. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to make your family’s fire burn brightest.

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