Don’t lay guilt trips on peo­ple you care about

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - FAITH - GwenRan­dall-Young

Have you ever had some­one say, “You don’t love me!”, when you won’t do what they want? Have you ever said “You don’t love me,” or “You don’t care about me,” be­cause some­one would not do what you wanted?

I re­mem­ber times when one of my chil­dren, upon be­ing re­fused a treat or a toy, would lament that I didn’t love them. I would al­ways laugh, and so would they, be­cause we both knew how far from the truth that was. But what if adults say this to each other and re­ally mean it? How do you de­fend your­self when some­one says you don’t care? It can be a no-win sit­u­a­tion.

First, it is im­por­tant to rec­og­nize that it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate to tell an­other per­son how they feel. That robs them of the free­dom to ex­press their own feel­ings. Sec­ond, lov­ing or car­ing should not au­to­mat­i­cally be as­so­ci­ated with do­ing cer­tain things.

If you want to know if some­one loves you or has stopped lov­ing, it is best just to ask them, rather than to chal­lenge them be­cause of some be­hav­iour. If you want to see more of a par­tic­u­lar be­hav­iour, then it’s okay to ask for it, but you don’t need to at­tach an emo­tional bomb to your request.

If you tell him he doesn’t love you be­cause he never brings you flow­ers, then where does that leave him when he spends so much time work­ing on the yard be­cause he wants it to look at­trac­tive for you? If you’re mad be­cause he never says you look nice, you might be missing the fact that he thinks you’re beau­ti­ful, even first thing in the morn­ing. If you think she doesn’t love you be­cause she spends so much time talk­ing with her friends, you might be un­aware that she talks to them about how much she does love you.

In any case, a pos­i­tive ap­proach al­ways works bet­ter. Telling some­one they don’t care trig­gers de­fen­sive re­ac­tions, not deeper lev­els of car­ing. Talk­ing about what you would like to cre­ate with a per­son is a way of paint­ing a pos­i­tive pic­ture that you can strive for.

And as for par­ents telling teenagers that they don’t feel loved be­cause the kids would rather be with friends, or kids think­ing par­ents don’t love them be­cause they won’t fi­nance a car, these are guilt trips, plain and sim­ple. Don’t lay guilt trips on peo­ple you care about, be­cause for sure, they’ll think you don’t love them.

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