Why the less obvious needs of children, may be the most crucial.
“I clung to the belief that Daddy just needed a cigarette and a cup
of tea before he was ready to interact with me but my patience didn’t
change anything. Time after time, even after my dad had finished a
smoke and had his tea, the most we would share would be a brief
conversation. I never did get my hug.”
Like a tree standing through rainy season, children are green, unbittered, uprightly hoping through charcoal, curling clouds that the sun will warm us.
My father was gruff, unapproachable, feared… yet, I wanted him close. I waited eagerly for him to come home from work, only to be told to leave him alone. Desperate for his attention, I ignored the lightning in the distance. When I discovered I was walking into a storm, I let cold drops run down my face… until I was told I had no choice but to obey and retreat.
Even then, I kept hope alive in memories of the day he took me fishing, or of when he sat me on his lap and let me steer the family car down our street.
Looking back, I want to tell my younger self, “go to mom, mom will hug you and let you in her space”, “be like Jennifer, she knows to keep her distance from daddy”, but I was a determined sapling. Naive of naivety, with hope new and strong, my pursuit was to be loved by all around me, especially him.
Perhaps, subconsciously, that desire grew because he was such a challenge. But even now, so poignant in my mind, I replay little Melissa’s thoughts, “how tired he must be getting home from a long day at work, I think he could still love me”, and grown Melissa’s, “He didn’t know a different way”… and it’s forgiven.
Would he forgive himself if he knew the gravity of his effect?
In his mind he was meeting our needs because he was providing financially for our physical needs (a source of great stress for him), and though he wouldn’t allow me to take for granted our roof and food, he still didn’t meet my dearest needs.
Though we have limits as parents, I learned from my experience that we have to look at our children as individuals and determine what’s important to them. In reality, sometimes that means prioritizing their needs and meeting their most essential first, but we must never give up in trying to fill their hearts as crucially as their bellies. We can rest a little bit when they’re happy, full-functioning adults, right?
What unique needs does your child/children have? If you have more than one child, how do their specific needs differ? How do you show them that you love them?
I included more about this portion of my life in my book, Lessons From Neverland, in hopes that it’s a reminder for parents to hold their children close, before their children only have hope to hold to. It also prepares readers for many lessons to follow between its covers.
Check out my eBook here, or purchase the paper book from any of the following distributors:
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