Unconditional parental love is the indispensable nutrient for the child's healthy emotional growth. The first task is to create space in the child's heart for the certainty that she is precisely the person the parents want and love. -- Gordon Neufeld
As parents we often get to read such moving quotes which impress on us that children thrive when given our love and attachment. And in our workshops, parents have shared how conscious thought and reflection is needed to mindfully provide children that nurturing in everyday life.
Parents could show their love in the daily rhythms in many ways. One important aspect is how we collect our children after every separation and create the space to listen to them.
Waking up in the morning is the first opportunity when we collect our children. The way we interact at that tender moment of meeting them after a night’s sleep can help children transition to wakefulness with joy. Keeping just ten minutes aside to cuddle and speak lovingly helps children feel safe, valued and loved. This is particularly useful in very young children who totally rely on us parents to meet every need of theirs.
Picking up our children after school or receiving them at home are moments of nurturance too. After school, our children excitedly look forward to being home with us. If we choose those moments to be busy or on our mobile phones - texting/chatting, we end up being distracted while collecting them. Being fully present for our children at such times makes them feel cared for which builds their self-esteem.
Whilst receiving children, we could be aware of being at their eye level and take interest in the leaf or stone they might be excitedly showing us. We need to follow our children’s lead - listen attentively if they feel like talking and enjoy silence together if they feel like being quiet. The greatest gift we could give our children is to really listen to them without judgement. When children share their joy, achievements, narratives and jokes, sharing their enthusiasm and laughing with them results in great bonding. When children come to us complaining about situations, friends or siblings we need to hear them with empathy, giving them the space to process their emotions and empowering them to find their own solutions. We don’t have to make every moment a teaching one!
When we collect children with genuine joy and attention, children feel connected to us. Luckily for us, the day is full of such separations and reunions. We could be reading a book and our child may walk in, we could put the book down and greet them with a loving smile.
Some parents in our workshops have shared that they found playing a game of their child’s choice, while letting the child take the lead in them, very powerful. Some others find that cooking together and eating at least one meal as a family brings them closer. Tucking children to bed in an unhurried manner brings joy to both parent and child.
Such simple gestures have the power of building attachment between parents and children through the children’s growing years. How fortunate we are to have many such simple opportunities to reinforce our love.
Our effectiveness as parents is in direct proportion to the strength of the bond we have with our child. Securing and maintaining that bond is our primary work as parents and is the key to optimal human development.---Gordon Neufeld
Author: Mrinalini Ponappa Banerjea is a certified parent educator with Parenting Matters, an organization which empowers parents to build deeper connection in families.