Are you familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? This model highlights our need for physical and emotional safety. Included in a lower ring of needs are “love, acceptance, and freedom from fear.” Sadly, it took me many years of parenting to learn that although I treated it as such, “good behavior” is not part of Maslow’s model.
When I was a young parent, I regularly addressed behavior issues with one of my sons as soon as I saw him after school. “Did you follow directions? Let me see your folder. Tell me what happened.” Looking back on this pattern, I am now convinced my task-master inclination sent the wrong message.
Follow me on this. When my child did well at school, we smiled and moved on with our day. However, when problems occurred, a black cloud of disappointment and lecture followed. [Unfortunately, the latter was the norm.] Though it wasn’t my intention, I wonder how often my son felt as though my love for him was contingent upon his behavior.
Parents, greet your children positively when you see them and avoid asking about behaviors right away. The last thing any of us want after having had a hard day is to go home and immediately discuss and relive the problems.
Remember? Love…acceptance…freedom from fear? Timing is the key. Address behavior issues, but do so later, such as after dinner or before bed. If our love is truly unconditional, relationships must always trump poor behavioral choices, and our daily interactions need to reflect this.