Unconditional Love

When Valentine’s Day arrives, many of us think of our spouse, partner, significant other… and those of us who have the privilege to be parents think of our little Valentine’s. ‘LOVE‘ is the first word that comes to mind this on Valentine’s Day and every time we look at our little ones sleeping. But what do we consider love? How do we love? How do we teach our children what love is? What’s the importance of love in our lives?…

I’ve always said that parents should love their children unconditionally, but what does that mean? Unconditional Love means loving them for who they are, for being, not for how they behave, or based on what they do. That’s a very tall order sometimes, right? Especially when 90% of the discipline and parenting approaches out there invite us to love our children with conditions.

Giving or withholding acceptance and love based on the child’s behavior is the essence of conditional love, and many of us were loved that way as children, and might be loving our children that way, without even realizing we are doing it and how damaging this can be to a child.

The problem with showing conditional love to our kids is that sends them the message ‘You are not good enough’, ‘You are not deserving of love unless…’, ‘You need to look for approval outside of yourself’… and what’s the problem with that? Unhappiness, low self-esteem, permanent anger, stress, internal turmoil, emptiness… I am not saying we shouldn’t discipline our children or that we shouldn’t have rules and boundaries with them; what I’m saying is that even when they’re being disciplined, even after they’ve broken our rules… they should feel unconditionally loved. They should learn about the consequences when they misbehave, but one of the consequences cannot be that they are less loved or that they will get less from us.

Most of us would say that we love our children unconditionally, without any strings attached; and we are sure that we do. However, what counts is what our children think and feel. It is important to realize that there is a very distinct difference between loving your children unconditionally and actually ‘showing’ this unconditional love and acceptance; and even though, we might feel unconditional love to our children, that might not be how they perceive our love towards them.

Do they feel just as loved when they misbehave or fall short as they do when they behave like angels, perform academically and in sports? Do they feel just as loved after we had a very hard day at work and get home to them exhausted? Do they feel just as loved… 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?

“What counts is not just that we believe we love them unconditionally, but that they feel loved in that way”. (Alfie Kohn)

After thinking a lot about this, I’ve decided to make a pledge: “I will think more about how my children feel my love, and do my best to guarantee that they feel unconditionally loved all the time”. I would encourage you to join me in my journey of becoming more mindful and conscious about this.

Much love, Diana-

The Importance of Bonding with Your Child

We spend nine months (some less than that) physically connected to our mothers via the umbilical cord. Without this connection we wouldn’t even be here. When we are born and that connection disappears, a new, more meaningful one emerges. It is an emotional and psychological connection.

How important is that connection, that bonding?

‘Essential’. The bond that babies have with their mothers and fathers impacts and reflects in their whole life. This idea is so vast that most of us can’t wrap our minds around the fact that the way we connect with our children during those first years has a tremendous impact in their happiness, character, health, self-esteem, academic performance, relationships and growth.

Healthy bonding helps the parts of your baby’s brain responsible for interaction, communication and relationships to grow and develop. Babies who have a deep and loving bond with their mothers have a much better foundation in life than those who don’t. It has been found that the lack of bonding in infants can have a life-lasting effect on a child. Infants who don’t bond are more likely to become anxious and insecure. Bonding creates trust, love, self-confidence and a sense of belonging.

Children with positive and strong bonding with their parents tend to:

  • be more independent (not less),
  • have higher self-esteem,
  • develop better relationships,
  • be more emotionally balanced,
  • enjoy being with others,
  • rebound from disappointment, loss and failure, and
  • communicate more effectively

Contrary to popular belief, the more responsive you are to a baby’s needs, the less ‘spoiled’ he will be growing up. Being responsive does not mean picking up your baby every time he fusses; holding him all day long; or becoming someone you are not or doing things you don’t want to do. It just means understanding your baby’s needs, your baby’s cues and respond to those.

You can develop a healthy, positive bond with your baby even if you decide to go back to work, to hire a nanny, to take some ‘me time’, not to breastfeed, not to co-sleep, not to carry your baby… There are no set rules!

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Here are some ideas on how you can develop a positive, loving and healthy bond with your child:

  • Love your baby, unconditionally. Accept your child completely and without restrictions, conditions or stipulations. Make sure that there is no spoken (or unspoken) message making your child feel or think that he has to be something other than what he is in order to be loved. Without unconditional love there can’t be healthy and positive bonding.
  • Know your baby. Each baby is different and the more you know your baby, the better you are going to meet his needs and the easier that bond will be established. Keep a journal and make notes on how your baby communicates with you, and how he responds when you communicate with him. You will soon know how to respond to your baby’s needs.
  • Touch your baby. This can mean kangaroo care when he’s a newborn; daily massages after bath time; cuddling while reading a book; or hugging him. The goal would be for your baby to grow, knowing that your arms are a safe place to fall back on and that they will always be there for him, to support him, but not constrict him.
  • Be present. Whatever you do, make sure you are present in the moment with your child, take time to connect with him, sense his love and let him feel your love.  You don’t need to do anything extravagant to show your baby you love him and you care. Get on the ground and play with him, make silly faces, dance, have fun with him, talk and listen to him… Let go the idea of being ridiculous, embarrassed, or perfect and just enjoy every second you spend with your child.

Every moment you spend with your baby can help create a strong, positive and healthy bond that will last a lifetime.

Much love, Diana-

Reading to your Kids

I found what this father (and his daughter) did was fantastic! They read and read together, every day, for the past 8+ years! Inspiring story!

Dad Reads to Daughter 3,218 Nights in a Row

When his daughter was in the fourth grade, Jim Brozina offered her a challenge: He wanted to see if the two of them could read together every night for 100 nights in a row. She accepted. When they reached their goal, she said to him quietly, “I think we should try for 1,000 nights.” And that’s how The Streak was born. According to the New York Times, the Brozinas read a total of 3,218 nights in a row, right up until Kristen’s first day of college.

It’s an amazing feat, especially considering that they both had busy social lives, but the Brozinas say it was more than a personal challenge: It was part of the glue that held them together. The Brozinas had been through a difficult year that included losing both grandparents, sending Kristen’s sister off to college and Kristen’s mother leaving her father.

“It was just the two of us,” Kristen told the New York Times. “The Streak was stability when everything else was unstable. It was something I knew would always be there.”

Reading a book together requires coziness and intimacy — and it’s the perfect way to unplug from your busy life and take some time to bond with your child. Here are some tips for getting the most out of reading with your child:

• Find a comfortable spot in the house and make it your own. When one of my kids asks me to read, she heads right for the softest couch in the house, ready to cuddle in. But don’t be afraid to read on the go. We keep books in the car for long waits, and I’ve even been known to share a book over breakfast.

• Make reading together part of your daily routine. Even when kids are old enough to read on their own, parents can read books that are above a child’s reading level to broaden their vocabulary and imagination. I often read chapter books at bedtime, just for this purpose.

• Choose books that are interesting. Those early-reader books are great for reading practice, but it’s the story books that really grab kids’ attention. The more engaged children are at reading time, the more they’ll look forward to it every day.

• Read books that you once loved. My kids are finally ready to hear books like “Beezus and Ramona,” and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s just nothing like passing on a great story to the next generation. On the flip side, be sure to let your kids choose, too. The books that they feel connected to might surprise you.

• Have fun with it. Make up funny voices, be dramatic, add your commentary and, whenever possible, end the session on a cliffhanger.

Much love, Diana-

 

Source: http://www.momlogic.com/2010/03/dad_reads_to_his_daughter_3218_nights_in_a_row_the_streak.php#ixzz0j43tkphU