“I could have helped you if I would have known, I’m your mother. I protect you against everybody in this world. I never thought to protect you from yourself.” This was a headline in a local newspaper. Her daughter had committed suicide the night before. The mother involved must be going crazy with grief as she thought she knew her child so well. But sometimes we don’t and sometimes we get caught off guard by believing that we do.
Creating a loving emotional connection with your child starts when the mother becomes pregnant. The sweet baby awaiting birth is physically, emotionally, and spiritually connected to her mother. This connection continues for a lifetime. It is a commitment that follows the journey of parenting.
Many parents have never been educated in “parenting.” All I could refer to in my days of parenting were my own memories of how my parents raised my sister and I. Sometimes these memories are good ones, other times not so good so that I found myself saying, “I will never do that to our child.” Parents are somehow expected to know what to do and when to do it. This is not true in anyone’s journey of parenting.
Finding the emotional connection with each child should be one of the most important aspects of parenting. Creating a relationship that is based on love, security and bonding is vital to the well being of both parents and their child. I believed that each of my six children were a grace from a Higher Power. This thought made me take my parenting role very seriously. I wanted to form a relationship with each child that would be filled with love and void of mistakes. I was certainly an amateur!
I wish I could say I didn’t make mistakes along the years, but that would be a big fib. I read years ago certain Indian tribes did something (to avoid mistakes) I think very unique: after their daughter or son had a newborn, the baby was given to the grandparents to raise. The theory was that since the parents were so young, immature and really didn’t know much about life as yet, the grandparents would take over and raise the child with their wisdom of age and experience. The young parents would visit often with the child, but it was the grandparents who raised the child in all ways. When the child reached puberty, he moved from his grandparent’s home to live with his parents. How nice is that!
We all love our children, we all want what is best for them, and we all are well intentioned as we start our parenting days. What sometimes gets put to the side is the emotional, responsive and loving connection that could bring about our greatest joy as a parent. The emotional health of our child is really critical for our long-term relationship. Parents generally want a happy, satisfying relationship with their children, but seem unable to create this relationship due to the many challenges facing them in today’s world.
There are great challenges and pressures of contemporary life. Parents are working long and hard to be able to support their children with each day bringing another stress for a family to cope with. Children are getting short-changed in the emotional department. Children that are positively emotionally connected to their parents develop a positive sense of trust, a sense of self, and a feeling of security. Children who do not feel positively emotionally connected tend to exhibit behavior problems and negative attitudes. They are more anxious, negative in their responses, and ignore and oppose their parents in many ways.
How do we create this emotional healthy connection? A nurturing parent becomes aware of their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. When parents are aware of this in themselves, they are then able to empathize more with their child. Being empathetic means you will be more able to help your child grow up as an independent, emotionally healthy, caring individual. Your empathy and understanding of a your child’s disappointment, pain and daily frustration will help guide your child to grow in maturity as they grow in years.
Self-concept begins very early in life and it is based on pleasing our parents. Children are dependent on parents’ approval. When parents aren’t giving their approval and show displeasure, the child sees herself as a failure. Creating an emotional connection is vital to the child’s sense of success in life. This connection carries over to every new task your child tries, and, of course, it carries over to school where children believe they are capable or incapable, bright or less bright than the other children.
Every experience we have brings with it a thought and a feeling. No matter what the experience, we will think about the experience and we will still feel something about it even when it is over with. With this in mind, please remember to provide and initiate as many emotionally connected experiences for you and your child. This deep warm connection will surface at many times in your child’s life and will provide your child with a lifetime of joy and pleasure to reflect upon.
Perhaps these early emotionally connected experiences will ultimately surface when a child considers doing something detrimental to her life…the memory of the security and love felt may well intrude upon negative acts of self-destruction. Every time you make time to hold your child’s hand, hug, kiss, love, read to your child, do homework with your child, give praise, play with your child, is the time you are assuring yourself of an emotionally healthy connection with your child.
Love is acceptance. Our life and our mission depend on that love. Love and empathy should never come to be taken for granted, to take it as understood and needing no manifestations – for then it becomes something else. It is joy of life and life itself. Let it never be still or silent. Follow your child’s lead. Their sensitivity and natural awareness will lead them straight to wanting to please and be a loving part of your life. Then they learn how to value their lives.