Conceiving a child and raising it to feel loved is the most significant action parents can attain. A loved child becomes not only a creative, inspiring being but one who helps all living things to survive and thrive.
Think of your child as a young artist who has come to you to learn how to paint or sculpt. As a teacher you would show patience and guide and instruct the child so they can create a work of art. You would not throw out their painting or pottery but show them how to rework it and create a true work of art.
Well you have the clay, the paint and the blank canvas to work with; your child.
As a surgeon I listened to 85 year old parents complain about their kid and I had to laugh remembering they were talking about a kid who was in his sixties. We can constantly be critical of our children by using phrases like, "There's something wrong with you." Or we can let them know they are loved even when we don't like what they are doing.
I know from working with all age groups that when you ask 80 or 90 year olds whether their parents loved them, close to 90 percent answer yes; but when you ask high school students the same question the figures are reversed.
I have lived the experience with our five children so I know wounds can be healed and that if we are truly educated about the parenting experience our children will be the beneficiaries. Licenses are needed for just about every significant activity or occupation except parenting. So when the birthing classes finish start parenting classes and learn from those who have preceded you and lived the experience.
Why do we call our children's children "grand" and their children "great grand children"? Because as we grow and mature and learn what is truly important in life, we see the children as grand and great. I was born an ugly duckling and my parents hid me in a covered carriage. I survived because I had a grandmother who, to quote my mother, "Poured oil over your body and pushed everything back where it belonged many times a day." I didn't have to find my own beauty, as the ugly duckling did, because I had a grandmother.
One teenager I know said she was staying at her grandmother's house and there were no full size mirrors for her to look in before she went off to high school. When she complained to her grandmother, her grandmother said, "Come over here and look into my eyes and you'll see how beautiful you are."
"There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer."
The opposite of love is indifference. So the child who feels unloved and drives you nuts gets your attention, while the angel often feels unloved because no one pays attention to him. As one of our children said, "I don't get 20 percent of your time." I explained his brother drove us nuts and got 40 percent. I admire the fact that he felt comfortable confronting his father with those statistics.
When siblings are born one or five years apart there is little rivalry. So apologize, as I have, to our kids and help them become a family. Our children learned that love and appropriate anger can exist together. Make magic and do things as a family every week. It can be eating out, going skating, visiting a museum, whatever; just make it an activity that allows you to interact and not sit staring at a TV set or a movie screen. When you do the latter have a session in which you all discuss your reaction to what you saw and learn from each other.
Emmet Fox wrote, "There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble; A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all."
A young woman I know whose parents are alcoholics started saying to them every morning, "I love you." They never answered her. After doing this for three months she ran out of the house one morning late for school. Her parents were in the street yelling, "You forgot something."
"What did I forget?"
"You didn't say I love you." Their healing began.