Do you remember the day your child was born? Do you remember the rush of feelings you had as you held your new born baby for the first time? I’ll never forget it. That charge of pure love and affection was like getting a glimpse of heaven.
Love is the ultimate parenting skill. It is the one character trait, feeling and skill that no parent can be truly successful without. The great thing is that there is something born in each of us that is naturally brought out when we see our own child, an unconditional love for another person that is rare in the world. We can learn from it. This love that comes originally as a torrent of emotion at first, requires that we nurture it and act upon it to make it grow and flourish.
To nurture this love, there are things we can do to both, keep the feeling alive within us and to express and act in love toward our children and families. The following four practices can help us fall in love again every day.
4 Practices that help us to fall in love again every day
1. Remember: Remember the moments. Think of the time that you felt most naturally and effortlessly loving toward your children and spouse. This may be when your child was born or maybe it was during some teaching moment, or when they gave you an unexpected look or kiss. Remember, write it, reminisce and relive it often. It’s amazing how just having a vivid memory of that instance can bring those feeling back just as strong as when they first happened.
2. Be affectionate, a lot: Give them a hug and kiss when you leave their presence, when you’re putting them to bed and at other random moments. Tell them, “I love you” at these opportune moments. Listen to the words escape your mouth when you say them. Mean it and then listen for their response.
3. Just watch them: I’ve found some of my most loving moments have been when I have quietly stood in a doorway or sat on the floor and just watched them without their acknowledgement. I’ve watched them play. I’ve watched them dance and be silly. I’ve watched them as they have completed chores or done some other responsible act and watched them sleep. With each observation, I see something wonderful and special, something I love about them. I’ve become more acquainted with who they really are and enjoyed their uninterrupted personalities.
4. Play, joke and laugh with them: If you are in the middle of an argument or struggle of some kind and aren’t feeling particularly loving at the time, there is no better time to lighten things up and reconnect with that loving feeling that exists despite disagreement. Kids and people in general learn, problem solve and connect far better when they are happy. Laughter, both mentally and biologically, produces trust and creates feelings of connection and joy that are again, both emotionally and biologically healing.
Real discipline and connection are only possible when love is present. Kids that are loved are kids that grow up to show love. They are more productive, responsible and happy. Kids that love and are loved, see the world more clearly and are more empathetic and successful. Parents that love and feel loved, find that they have greater self control and are better able to interact in ways that fit their virtues and values. Love is the un-expendable, irreplaceable parenting skill. If you learn and expand no other parenting practice, learn and grow love!
Question: How do you nurture love for and with your children and family despite family struggles?
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