I noticed this phrase I’ve been using recently – and I even caught Hubby saying it today. sometimes, when I’m telling EK to do something, she gets frustrated or even cries. So the next time I tell her, I often begin my sentence with “I love you, but…” Here are a few examples:
I love you, but you have to go to bed now.
I love you, but you can’t hit your brother.
I love you, but you have to eat your breakfast.
I love you, but you can’t wear your too-big, plastic, high-heeled princess shoes to school.
See what I mean? I don’t know if I do it because my parents did it, or if I made it up all on my own. But when she starts the tears, or stomps her feet and slams doors in frustration (definitely my daughter – sorry to pass that on) I want to head her off by declaring my love for her, reminding that I have her best interest in mind, and that I’m not telling her to do something she doesn’t want to do just for kicks. But I’m using my love for her like a disclaimer. I’m saying it just before I deliver the final blow of bad news: I love you, but we aren’t watching any more Bubble Guppies today.
My love for my kids shouldn’t be a disclaimer, or even a reason that I can tell them what to do. My love should be the viewpoint from which I act, speak, and parent in general. My love should be what chooses my words and lifts my hands. My love is the reasoning behind wanting to help my kids be healthy, responsible, kind, and happy – not the thing I say before I force them into those things. So I’m going to challenge myself: I won’t follow my “I love yous” with a “but”. I won’t discount my love by saying it with an ulterior motive. I love my kids. I love them regardless of any and every situation they could possibly be in, which is why I will choose to parent without excuses, even if the excuse was “I love you”. There is no “I love you, but…” There is only an internal “I love you, so…” I will help you make the best choices now, so that when you’re older, you’ll make the best choices on your own.