When you become a parent, the one thing you can always count on is constant change and adjustment in your life. You learn as you go and follow what works for you. You soon see that your child is growing within himself as you continually explore unfamiliar territory. Like discovering a new frontier or a distant solar system, you realize the lay of the land and it is unique to each child.
You bring your personal history and skills (or incapacity) with you when you are a parent. The interpersonal journey of caring for another human is more than just caring for another. It requires great potential for personal and relational growth. You learn volumes and keep learning through the experience of caregiving over time.
The world of parenthood is filled with juicy life lessons, uncharted waters, and precious land. This is true for every child in your care. Caring for a child well and with heart, competence and conscience is to take full advantage of the endless possibilities of loving and learning. Every child is a gift from heaven, whatever their packaging or personality. You must constantly love and regard yours as yours, be tested to love more than ever, accept and honor your individuality and your common bond.
In early infancy, you tenderly hold your baby in your arms, breathe new life into yours, and experience pure, unadulterated love. Closeness, touch, eye contact, and symbiosis are necessary for the binding hormone, oxytocin, to be felt and enjoyed by both mother and child. You don’t expect your love or the lack of conditions around your love to be called into question. The love you feel is all-encompassing as the bonding process unfolds. As a protector and guide, you develop a deep sense of unconditional love for your little one.
In these early stages of parenthood, it is a simple task to love unconditionally. Your baby has no words to argue with you or display behaviors that offend or challenge you. You cannot imagine that your unconditional love is threatened as the cocoon of safety between you is preserved. It is a mutual feeling of “falling in love” that changes over time as the relationship grows, changes and resolves. The deep love between parent and child touches the very core of your heart and soul.
Fast forward to raising your toddler, school age, teenager or teenager and notice your feelings when your child displeases you, frustrates you, challenges you, or disrespects you outright.
You may be at your wit’s end with the endless variety of ‘no’s’ voiced by your emerging toddler. When your older child tells you a lie or gets into trouble at home or at school, you may be shocked and deal with it the best you can. Even with a rebellious teenager who doesn’t want anything to do with you, you find the balance between dealing with the behavior and loving your child all the same. Loving unconditionally and with a life of consistency is key.
âWhen done skillfully, the way you relate to your child can transform your relationship. You are the “responsible parent and your child has a voice.” (Sidell, 2015) Breathe every moment, every triumph and challenge, and every step. Breathe deeply into the core of your heart and into the depth of your love.
No matter what is thrown at you, asked or asked to see, hear, feel or say, lead with your unconditional love and set the boundaries necessary to ensure that the message of love always shines through. Let yourself and your child know from the start of your time together until the end of your time together that your unconditional love is something you can count on.
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