First of a four-part series | Part Two
Love is so important that the success of our parenting depends on it! Its power to warm hearts, transform difficult situations and help us rise above our pettiness is unquestionable. Love is respect for the individual beingness and unique qualities and life path of another including our children.
Love is awesome in its requirement to set aside our egos and stop insisting that our kids must do it our way or be like us. They are individuals. Love insists on parental self-control to transform anger and frustration into temperance and patience, and thus do no harm. Love’s tolerance sees differences between ourselves and our children as a tapestry of rich variation completing a dynamic whole.
Love’s magnanimity takes work as we learn to understand our children instead of being irritated with their weaknesses or mistakes. Love protects, and that includes protecting kids from our own bad moods and outbursts by decisively taking charge of our behavior and emotions. Love expands within us through listening attentively to and learning from the perspectives and perceptions of our offspring. Love is a spiritual action and takes work, discipline and growth on our part! It can be cultivated, and is the most fulfilling and important quality we can develop in life and in parenting. Love is a gift we give ourselves and our kids.
We think of love as affection and, of course, it is! Love also takes on many additional forms and behaviors in our daily interactions with children.
The behaviors of love include:
- Respect: Valuing and relating to kids as equals, regardless of age or skills in life. Being considerate in the same ways we would our friends. Communicating respectfully with our words and facial expressions without blame, shouting, insults or name-calling.
- Kindness: Being helpful and warm; soothing, stroking and offering your good wishes. Seeing a need and fulfilling it without a request. Reaching out to your child with encouraging, uplifting words or actions.
- Empathy: Getting inside your child’s shoes and feeling what they are experiencing. Deeply understanding what it’s like for them.
- Interest/Connection: Making time to inquire about and listen to your child’s concerns, interests, experiences, etc. Delving into the heart and soul of your kids to know what makes them happy, what specifically they like about art or tennis, and how to help them overcome fears, etc. Attend to their inner life, their spirit, what goes on inside them.
- Compassion: Helping, aiding or supporting a child who is suffering or struggling. Creatively assisting with a challenging task, soothing hurt feelings, offering varied possible solutions, etc.
- Self-control of Harmful Emotions: Not taking out your own frustrations on your children. Controlling yourself and speaking calmly, yet directly, without anger. Instead of exploding saying, “Let’s find a way to work this out.” Or “What is hurting you so much that you are behaving this way?” These words spoken with genuine caring bring solutions and harmony.
- Appreciation: Commenting on the good points of your child, expressing how rich your child makes your life and how much you care and admire her/him for various reasons.
- Tolerance of Differences: Just because you like lots of quiet, contemplative time doesn’t mean your child has that kind of nature. Maybe he or she thrives and grows through action and many activities. Parent and child are two worlds coming together with separate personality traits, needs, perspectives and desires. Reach a friendly balance.
- Forgiveness/Letting Go of Grudges: Leave what happened yesterday as part of the past. Allow you and your child to learn and grow through mistakes. Offer some ideas for change and work with your child to come up with a solution. For example, “Let me show you a good way to do that I think will work well for you.” Or, “How do you think we can improve this situation.” “What do we need to do to make this work better?”
- Integrity: Modeling ethical behavior daily as a natural way of being and behaving. Discuss doing the right thing and what that means in many situations with your child. Do what you say you will. Tell the truth.
- Setting ego aside: Do not give orders or say, “Do it because I said so.” The words and demeanor of control, intimidation and forcing lead to a child who is insecure, weak, angry and without confidence or trust. All of the research shows that this non-loving behavior creates troubled kids with multiple problems. If this is an issue for you, educate yourself in the skills of respectful communication, conflict resolution and anger management. Look online for references and excellent materials.
Remember, we grow into love with intent, focus, practice and the desire to improve ourselves and the lives of our children. I don’t know of a more worthy endeavor!