In the Name of Love
Every child needs love and your inner child is still very much a part of you. Now is the time to meet your needs by yourself and for yourself.
In Mothers and Daughters: The guide to understanding and transforming the relationship with your mother we discuss attachment and bonding with your mother. I go on to share here, the importance of having a mother who is loving, affectionate, sensitive and playful towards her children. It would be unrealistic to believe a mother can provide all of these things one hundred percent of the time, though having the ability to love, offer affectionate touch, being sensitive to a child’s needs and playing together, leads the child to grow up in a healthy environment and in turn grow up to be healthier adults. The research and studies of Notre Dame Professor and Psychologist Darcia Narvaez, suggest these actions when given freely, willingly and in plentiful supply, show long-term benefits. Our children and adult children are less depressed, less anxious and have the ability to interact socially as a result.
Included in the case studies shared throughout Mothers and Daughters, some of which are included here, you will gain awareness how your family is your first and most important community. As a child, your heart would have been wide open to receive love. However fragile the connection with your caregivers, the need for love may have been behind many of your actions as would be the need for acceptance and approval.
Many daughters crave the physical affection of their mothers in terms of wanting her embrace and soothing touch. It became apparent in my work and what daughters have shared with me in their support sessions, that physical touch might mean no more than a face being wiped, air kissing at arm’s length or a smack of the bottom. Many of the daughters who contributed to this book shared how they never felt anywhere near being mothered enough. Warmth, cuddles, caresses and tender touch were not on the menu. The deepest level of intimacy for some of you reading this, may have been the time spent in a mother’s womb.
The very issues you struggle with, your mother may have battled with too.
Begin to notice when you feel rejected, not only by your mother but with the people you share intimate relationships with. When we open ourselves to love if our perception is skewed and we believe the other person is withdrawing or withholding love, we react through our default behaviours, not because of the other person’s action or inaction, but by the meanings we have placed on things and the limiting beliefs we have filtered through.
Perhaps you too have experienced loving your mother in one moment and hating her next?
How often do you have an internal conflict? One moment thinking about your mother as a ‘good mother’ and the next verses a ‘bad mother’?
How often does your mother’s mood change and how does yours change in relation to her?
Become aware of when your own mood changes towards her, one minute loving her and the next hating her and explore the contributing factors of what turns your love to hate
There may be acts of love our mothers offer us we are not even aware of. How we show love to another will be different for each of us, depending on who we have modelled love from.
We each show our love and affection to each other differently. Sometimes we may follow in our parent’s footsteps, at other times we might be the total opposite.
Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell in their book The Five Love Languages for Children mention the following love languages, as a means of loving expression:
Spending quality time together
Words of affirmation
Physical touch (intimacy)
Acts of service (devotion)
This list is not exhaustive, I personally learnt so much from reading Gary Chapman’s books. They have enlightened me as to how my mother was showing her love and yet I had not realised this. His books include a full range of love languages for singles, couples, teenagers and men.
Gary shares how each person has a primary and secondary love language; he suggests we observe the ways in which others express their love. I share information about his teachings and recommend his books regularly in my client sessions discussing love languages. It’s great to see people make a connection with how they are/were loved by their mothers, though the expression of love was different to what they might have recognised. I wonder what your predominant love language is?
Bryony’s Words of Wisdom (taken with permissions from a case study)
‘‘My mother communicated her love to us as a family when I was a child through acts of service (keeping a clean and tidy home, cooking, shopping for necessities as well as arranging doctor and dental appointments, school trips and writing letters of importance) The other love languages were not foremost for her. My predominant love language in my personal relationships is spending quality time together. I can see now why we disagreed so much. I wanted to be with her away from home creating happy memories and she wanted to stay at home and do the ironing. I couldn’t have cared less if my clothes were ironed or not.’’
· In what ways has your mother shown love to you when you explore the five love languages?
· What do you think is/was her predominant love language?
· What is your predominant love language?
· Having the awareness, perhaps you were more loved than you realised through an expression of a love different to your own, what changes for you?
· If you are able to communicate more fully by voicing and responding to each other’s preferred love language, what might this be an opportunity for?
Jenny’s Words of Wisdom (taken with permissions from a case study)
‘‘My mum didn’t show me any physical closeness; she bottle fed me, disgusted at the thought of breast feeding I was brought up on formula. She left me when I cried using the ‘cry-it-out method’. I can remember lying awake for what seemed like hours wailing at the top of my lungs and nobody came, there was no soothing touch, hugs, or words of affirmation. I think this is why I find it hard to cry now, it seems so pointless.
I never saw my mother kiss or embrace my father and the same with my grandparents; I did not witness any physical love or words of love between them or towards my mother. My mother’s parenting style, on reflection, may have been related to how things were back in the day; my mother was born in 1943, my grandmother in 1915. Things were very different then compared to now. I’ve made it my mission not to be like her and to show as much love as I possibly can to my children.’’
Your personal situation with your mother may be totally different to what's shared here, it is my hope for you that you have indeed experienced unconditional love from your mother. Our first relationship is with our mother. Her behaviours towards us influence all relationships long after birth.
If you have enjoyed reading this blog post, please do go back and read the previous posts about getting naked with your feelings. It really is time to be open about how we feel, no longer are we children fighting for love, approval and acceptance, we have to find a way to move beyond that and know that we are lovable just as we are.
A person can only give as much love as they have found within themselves - Daniel Chidiac