’I will never talk to my kids like that…’
In this post, we introduce you to an article written by Olga Karchevskaya, a psychiatrist, nutritionist, and a mom. It sums up perfectly why it’s so important to respect and love children unconditionally. Although Olga’s conclusions might seem a little harsh, on the whole, we think they’re hard to dispute.
Yesterday in the subway, I sat on a bench right next to a mom with her son. The mom was trying to teach him some kind of lesson in a worn-out, tedious way. It seemed that she always talked to him like that. It went something like this:
— ’’Mom, I have a tummy ache…’’
— ’’Whose fault is that? I told you not to eat so much. You don’t know your limits, and now you feel bloated. I ate properly, but what about you? Why did you eat so much? Look at your pants. You eat like a little pig. I washed these pants just yesterday, and now I need to wash them again. Ok, get up — the train is here. Who’s going to carry your bags? You always leave your stuff everywhere…’’
The boy turned around, picked up his things and entered the train.This exchange made me really uncomfortable for two reasons. First, I had heard this kind of thing a lot growing up. Second, I also talk like that to my children when I am tired or upset.
I wanted to sit right next to this poor boy, pat him on the head and hug him real tight. I would tell him: ’’Don’t listen to her. You’re fine. You’re just a kid. Not knowing your portion size is absolutely normal at this age. You’re not old enough to be in charge of that. Your mom should take care of that for you. It’s totally fine for you to stain your clothes. You’re a child, a boy. As a kid, it makes sense for you to be all dirty like a miner. It’s fine that you forget your things all the time, especially at this time of the night, when you’re so tired.’’ I also wanted to add something like ’’honey, baby, cutie-pie,’’ the words I use with my own son.
Instead, however, I sat down on the opposite side from the little family. I closed my eyes and felt like I was about to cry. My mom’s voice appeared in my head every few seconds. Phrases like ’’Because I said so,’’ ’’What? Are your arms broken?’’ and ’’I can’t believe you did that!’’ were painfully familiar, literally painful.
After I grew up, I learned to stand up for myself. I never let anybody talk to me like that. In order to recover, I needed over a year of therapy sessions. I was rebuilding my personal boundaries. I reconstructed my ruined self-esteem. I learned to accept myself. I did all of this, but these little voices are still in my head. Whenever I get too tired or upset, these come back into my head.
I live on my own, in a different part of the world. There are about 8,000 km between my mom and I. We rarely see each other and barely talk on the phone. She is better at talking on the phone now; she learned to keep her opinions on my personal and professional qualities to herself. She even learned to text me ’’I love you.’’ It feels strange because only a couple of year ago things were very different. She would call me after watching TV shows I hosted (as a nutritionist) and ask me: ’’When are you going to find a real job?’’
The childhood memories come alive when I spend a day with her, as well. This comes from her childhood. Her mother, my grandmother, gave her 5000% of what I get from my mom.
When I was a child I always thought ’’I will never talk to my kids like that.’’ Now, however, I feel like my brain produces the same phrases with the same intonation whenever I am irritated, exhausted, and losing control.
I am not upset with my mom about her not saying ’’my lovely girl,’’ ’’my dear,’’ and ’’honey’’ 30 years ago. I already know how much early childhood affects my behavior as an adult. It’s not that easy to install new software over the old one. The only thing left is to sympathize with her and her mom, whose childhood was even worse. I will probably discover many scary things, like hunger, war, revolution, etc., if I look into my family’s history.
Loving my ancestors is the only thing left I can do. Moreover, I can love my son unconditionally, so on him, this terrible baton is interrupted.
I say sorry after these incidents (luckily, they don’t happen often), I explain why they happen. I tell him that I love him unconditionally 10 times a day. I hug him 50 times a day. I give him promises. I am responsible for him, so when he grows up, he is also responsible for somebody. I do everything I can.
I do everything I can, so the little voices in his head will tell him that he has a right to live a life. He has a right to be loved, just because he was born… He doesn’t need to work for anything. He is smart, handsome, and talented (this is absolutely true). He has a big heart and will be a good man. He already acts like a gentleman. He opens doors for me and takes away the heavy bags. I never even taught him these things.
The more I do this, the weaker the voices are in my head. They are still there, and they will most likely stay there forever. But they have become a white noise, like the noise of the cars passing by my house. I got used to them. I try to earn love and a right to exist less and less. I am just being me more and more.
I understand that this story fits many people. We historically have low self-esteem. Nothing will change unless we work on our self-love. We won’t have honest elections and clean streets. We will have wars with our neighbors, theft, lies, drinking problems, and degradation.
I don’t have an answer for this. I don’t know how to help people whose little voices always tell them that they are nothing but pigs, cows, and horses. The only way to lower these voices isn’t to get drunk, scream at children, or hate everybody else.
Every person should begin with themselves, in my system. They can choose something that helps them from an array of things. These tools include meditation, prayer, yoga, and professional help. Love your family. They are not perfect and even annoying at times. You will be able to apply your techniques on neighbors, colleagues, and just people in general as soon as you get a hang of it. When you constantly work on yourself, you want to change others much less.
I need to start working on myself. I need to respect myself. As soon as everybody feels that way, we will have honest elections and clean streets.
Author: Olga Karchevskaya
Preview photo credit: Mr.OutdoorGuy