This, kind of, provoking thought crossed my mind some days ago and I have been thinking about it since. My conclusion is, probably not, but they can learn how to if they are taught how to. I will explain my way of thinking.
When a child is born it doesn’t love its providers, who are usually the parents. The child need someone to care of it to survive. It’s a survivals instinct to stay around the one that is around you and hopefully provides you with necessary things like food and water. A typical one year old is looking deeply into your eyes and smiles and you get swept away by its charm. The child does this, because instinctively, it will make you feel that you want to take care of it. This flirting-technique is something we use as adults as well, to get the result of being taken care of and needed. The child (nor adult) doesn’t love you though, because it just needs to be taken care of. Important stage though, to reach love. I’ve heard a lot of adults saying that a child’s love is so pure. I think it might be different. A child is open to being loved and to love, but it doesn’t love you, just because you give the child attention. It might give you attention back and smile, this is because it needs to survive.
Whatever an adult teach and show a kid before the age of 10-11 is the main patterns of the child’s behavior that will follow the child through life. No matter if its good or bad, the pattern will be the base of this person. As an adult the person can get aware of the bad patterns if open to change oneself for the better. This normally needs help from a therapist and really hard work. The thing is, it doesn’t matter what school, activity or food a child is given if the child haven’t been taught self-love, self-esteem, confidence and worthiness, and this from its primary providers. This can be a little tricky, because if you, as an adult, love the attention and the feeling of being needed and confuse it with the child loves you, you do not love the child. You love the attention and the child will know. Still give you the attention, because it need to survive, but you will not teach and show the child love, because you are too taken by the attention you are getting from the child. At the age of 7-10 the child will become more independent and will not need adults in the same way to survive. The relationship will change, but if you as an adult loved the attention and is not getting the same, since the child is now being more independent, there will be a major disconnection. There is a big difference with getting/giving attention, needing/being needed by someone and love/being loved. Adults need to love unlimited first without getting granted to be loved back.
I think you can relate to this more easily in relationship between grown ups. Most of us want to be loved and love, but might be distracted of the feeling of needing someone for practical reasons. This has mostly to do with the lack of self-love. If you as an adult just give the practical things as food, home and clothes to a child, you will not teach and show love, hence the child will not learn love and therefor they can’t love you. If you put a child in a position where its emotional needs are ignored or overseen, you will teach and show that the child’s emotions are nothing to care for. The child will not be able to accnolidge its own feelings, since the adult didn’t show that the child’s feeling was alright to feel. How is the child supposed to love if its feelings aren’t important, as you as an adult have showed it? A very easy example, a child want to use its pretty socks for a skiing vacation. As an adult you respond ‘Don’t you get that you can’t use those socks when you are skiing?’ This is a sarcastic way of putting a child down as it just express her/his wish. Sarcasm is first class bullying. The child just wanted pretty socks, and if you respond like that was something wrong with just expressing it, how could the child dare to express other, more important thoughts and feelings? Why should any person love a person who is mean? If you’re always asked about your next step, but no one tells you their happy or proud of who you are and what you have achieved, why should you stay?
This is of course also the opposite, if you let the child feel its feelings, it will feel worthy of its own feelings. No matter if its anger or happiness, it is entitled to its own feelings and if you show that you respect the child’s feelings (not saying you have to agree all the time), the child will feel self-love, worthiness, self-esteem and confidence. If you tell and show the child that you are proud of it and that you love it, the child will most certainly feel that it is worthy of being loved and therefor also learn to love you, beyond its needs.
A friend of mine was tired of her partner and said it was so much easier when she was living by herself and the kids. They love her and she love them and there was no question about it. I told her that it’s wrong. Because her children has to obey her rules, her partner doesn’t. Of course it’s easier to live with people that you can decide when and where they can go somewhere, what they can do and not do etc.
To really love, I think we have to learn to love each other – adult to adult and show respect. I’m Swedish so I’m thinking with my own culture in mind, but in general, adults don’t need other adults to survive, practically. We need each other to belong and feeling loved, which if we fail, depression in society will rise and as well fear and with fear comes hate and hate increases fear. Only love can kill hate and an open mind for learning can kill fear. Adults often say that ‘children are our future’. I disagree. We are the future, what we do is what our children will do. If they fuck up, its because we taught them to do so and we were too scared to show that you can change your behavior and way of thinking. If we show change and go a little further, you people will learn to embrace change and will go even further. As long as we are saying that someone else is our future, we are also giving away the responsibility for our own actions. You might have heard of the example of the man hitting his wife and then telling their son to not hurt women. The son will do as shown, not as told. We are the future of all of us.
Therefor we have to figure out love, vulnerability and connection so we can show love to others that are here and coming after us. We need to love first. You need to love first. To get attention from a child does not mean you’re loved. It means that the child want to survive. If you show love and respect to the child from day one, the child will grow up and show you love and respect too. It will feel as it is entitled to itself and not only born to provide you with attention. If you don’t, how is the child supposed to love you if you never showed the child how to do it, how to love?
It’s time to reach the next level. We need to do more than just survive. We need to love. It maybe will be difficult, like learning a language, it’s really frustrating when you don’t get the grammar and when you get the grammar it’s time the learn the exceptions, which make you forget what was right in the beginning. Then there’s a day when you find you’ve passed the fear of making mistakes and you talk to people and they actually get you and this is the amazing reward of communication. To keep on striving to know the true language of love will be the be the best reward ever.
Something like that, was what I was thinking. It is kind of provoking and not, as I see it, the way we’ve learned to think about children and love and as well about adults and love. I’m not sure that I’m totally right about this thought, but I do think it is an interesting thought worth thinking about. We all need to learn to open our hearts and if we adults, who are responsible for the most actions in this world, the next generation will also learn what ever we choose to do.
Only loving people can teach and show love. We, as adults, need to love more than ever. If we find it hard, get help, find a way. Everybody needs an helping hand. Because if you get help to learning to let go of all the fears of failure, you will love and you will win and the world will win. We will laugh, cry, argue, and love. Love.