Please note that while this particular blog post has a religious background, the message can and should be used for all children. And by “all,” I really mean “any child who you love.”
I have gone to church my entire life. I still enjoy going. In fact, I am going this evening. While in high school, I attended two churches on a regular basis. It was from one pastor, Bruce, that I learned about Intrinsic Value. (This is Bruce. Hi Bruce! Picture credit: Bruce’s facebook)
I am a smart person. I love large, rarely used words. I read a lot. But seriously, I had never heard the word “intrinsic.” For those of you who are in the same boat I was in, intrinsic means that something, or someone, has value just for its own sake. The message that Bruce was trying to portray was that we have intrinsic value to God.
Fast forward 12 years (yes, 12). There is Selina, deciding to throw a tantrum in the middle of the court so that all of the neighbors can hear. I can’t even remember what it was about, but I do remember that we were going to be late. I hate being late. So as I pick up the screaming 4 year old and place her in the car, I tell her that I don’t like the choice that she had made. Of course, her smart little mind had a momentary lapse of smartness and my words got translated to “I don’t like you.” And that started another wave of hysterics.
We get to my in-law’s house just about the time that she calms down. As we walk into the house, I drop the baby off with the rest of the family and haul Selina upstairs to have a chat. But honestly, how can I tell her that she has intrinsic value to me? Yes she’s smart, but she’s still 4. But here’s what I came up with:
“Selina, I love you with all of my heart. Sometimes you have a hard day and you make choices that I don’t like. I love you and I always will. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to make me stop loving you. But I don’t like some of choices that you make. But I love you.”
I know. Repetitive. But she left happy and had a fairly good evening afterwards. But that is a seriously hard concept to grab. I tried anyways.
Skip to last week. I was having a very rough day. After I got off work (at 10pm), I went to pick up the kids to take them home. I thought they were both asleep, so I wasn’t worried that they would overhear me crying in my bedroom. A little body appeared in my doorway and slowly made its way onto my bed where I was crying.
“What’s wrong Mommy?” my little girl asked.
“Nothing, baby.” I replied. “I’m just having a hard day.”
And somewhere in her mind a trigger was set off and she told me “It’s ok Mommy. Sometimes you have a hard day and make bad choices. But I still love you. And I always will.”
Epic win for intrinsic value.