Human beings do not automatically love other human beings. Nor is love a stable, impregnable sort of thing. You may have lost patience with your child, feel oppressed by him or her, or in some other way lost that loving feeling.
Do you soften in his or her presence and want to hug your child or do you harden in his or her presence and routinely do some scolding? What child wouldn’t grow sadder or angrier if he or she felt that what he or she got from a parent wasn’t love but criticism or even revulsion? Think whether a softening and a more loving attitude might amount to great medicine.
An excellent social psychology experiment had seminary students rushing to hear a lecture about the Good Samaritan—rushing so fast that they couldn’t be bothered to stop to help a person in need. Virtually no seminary student could act like a Good Samaritan because he was in a rush to hear a lecture on the Good Samaritan! Either a person walks the talk or he or she doesn’t. Show your child love, feel loving toward your child, come from a place of kindness, consideration and compassion, and see if your child doesn’t listen better, cooperate more, look less sad, throw fewer tantrums, or otherwise improve. And you might feel better yourself, both because your child is having an easier time of it and because those revitalized loving feelings circulating through your system are warming you and cheering you.
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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
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