This morning as I am attempting to wake up, my husband has this thing called a job, so he gets up early, I grabbed a cup of nice strong coffee and also a book that our daughter Megan, who is a teacher and scholar, left on the counter. It is called "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness". I took both the coffee and the book outside and began to enjoy them.
I was not sure what to expect from the book, but the title intrigued me. I know that in the very first blog I wrote, I listed what I think are the most important ideas to consider as a parent if you want to try and raise children who become competent and fully cooked adults with the least amount of baggage and strife in their lives. I am fairly certain that "unconditional love" was one of the first things I mentioned, if not the very first. I would like to think that my brain would remember accurately, but all of us over 50 know that can be iffy! As I sipped my coffee and began to peruse the book, I was reminded of what my basic thought about raising kids has and will always be. Unconditional love is the best gift we can give them.
The author of the book, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., talked about how to help children have a connected life. Through his research and study, he has determined that unconditional love is one of the biggest predictors in raising kids who become adults that are "fully cooked" this is my phrase, not his. Adults who are able to navigate the world and their life with the feelings of security, basic trust, courage, optimism, love of life, and the ability to deal with adversity. These qualities, in his educated opinion, are what lead to strong capable adults. Adults who can navigate life well, all the parts...the good the bad and the ugly, because we all know life can have all of those dimensions.
What was fascinating to me at the ripe old age of 56, is that I still search for answers about why I think the way I do, and have and do believe that a lot of our emotional baggage comes from the messages we received as children. I believe that my parents did the best they were able to, and I did feel loved...yet at times growing up there were caveats attached to that loved feeling...did I do something well, did I mess up, was I perfect enough. I am not at all trying to make this about me, I am on the contrary trying to provide an observation, that even at 56 I am aware of these thoughts.
Unconditional love given from parents to children is the way children feel connected to the world. It gives kids the opportunity to develop basic feelings of security and trust, those underlying layers of personal self confidence. Maybe instead of worrying about too many things as a parent, we start right there, or revisit or renew our efforts in loving our kids unconditionally, no matter what! I think that message throughout all of life and every stage of parenting is an important one.
O.K. Just as I am contemplating how to finish this post, I received a phone call from a dear friend, a Mommy of adult children who are leading their own lives. We had to talk about remembering the whole premise of loving our kids unconditionally. Sometimes they make it harder than other times...
Until next time,