To illustrate how this came to be, I will cite the Santa Claus Myth. (Folks from other cultures & religions & mythologies have precisely the same background, just a different myth.)
Each diapered child in Western civilization is brought to the gloriously-lit and decorated Xmas tree and handed presents and told the insupportable story that red-suited Santa Claus brought all those toys from the North Pole in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, delivering to billions of households in one long cold Winter night, and if the kid is 'bad' then such gifts will be withheld.
But then they learn in the schoolyard or the street where they learn most about Life that the Santa Myth is false. And they ask their loving parents whether what Billy said about Santa is really true, and then their parents lie to them and say that "yes, Virginia, there is a Santy Claus". But the myth falls apart anyway as the kids see pseudo-Santas at the mall, or notice that the gift-tags from the North Pole are in Mommy's handwriting, or they remember when Mommy bought the necktie at Wal-Mart that Santa gave to Grandpa.
So the schoolyard grapevine prevails, and the kids ask again for reassurance from Mom or Dad, and the lie is admitted. But now their loving parent asks the kid to lie to little Cindy (i.e. the younger siblings), to cover up the falsity of the Santa Myth pressure from one's parent to conform, to participate in this grand conspiracy of lies.
And then these kids get older and notice the other lies, the system of falsehoods, and the conspiracies and cover-ups all around them, and even before the kids reach teenhood they are very certain that anything that their parents and family and teachers and clergy tell them cannot be trusted.
That hurts. To the bone.
By the time any child is 10 or 12 years old, they are absolutely clear that everything that they are told is suspect, including that their parents love them. Especially that.
Looking from there, in any culture, is it any wonder that your kids all kids are lost and afraid and angry and they hate you? (And this is true even without any additional trauma or tragedy, such as abuse or divorce or sudden death of a parent or loved one.)
Unless your kids know in their hearts that their parents or step-parents or caregivers love them absolutely, then the result will be the tense and hateful and frustrating and hollow pretense that you see in families all around you.
A child who is loved and honored and knows that for certain has nothing to prove, nothing to rebel against, no need for approval, no reason to leave home in a huff or snit, no reason for payback. A child who is certain of parents' love has self-worth, and is not in danger of negative influence. He or she knows what path to follow and does not stray.
Love is something that you give. The story of your terrible childhood is no matter what is required to have love is to give it. Start with a puppy or a fish tank or co-workers or strangers. When you give love, then you have it. And then work upward and look for Relationship, not as a source to fill up your emptiness, but as somewhere that you can spend your love. Then when kids join the family unit, they will experience love from the day of their birth.
In the middle of a horrible family dynamic right now? Can't seem to stop the negativity? Doesn't matter a whit: Your job as a parent or caregiver is to make certain that your children know absolutely that you love them.
Once that is accomplished, the rest will fall into place. While that is being accomplished, all the other crap does not matter.
You can fight or punish or withdraw or be victim, but that will only get you what you already have. The only way out of the existing paradigm of [non-working] relationships is to make certain that your children know absolutely that you love them. And this also applies to Significant Others and spouses and any other family: if YOU don't make this happen, take it on committedly, then the results will be the standardized mess handed down to you by the Culture Structure Love as a commodity. A scarce commodity, for sale to the highest bidder.
Your job as a parent is to make certain that your children know absolutely that you love them.
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