Perhaps most important is that we discuss the future of our children. They are, after all, our legacy in this world. If we want to make an impact on the future with our love, the children are how we do it. They are our standard bearers for Sharing the Medicine of Love.
It appears that teens are pulling away emotionally from their parents, identifying with their peers in increasing numbers. They are desperately searching for recognition and acceptance. Many feel abandoned. What is missing in their lives that are fostering their switch in allegiance from family to peer group?
Many explanations are given for estrangement: parents are too busy and lose touch with their children; adults don’t listen; children just want to express themselves through their independence from parental ties. The list of reasons may be very long. It would seem, though, that if an authentic emotional bond was formed and nurtured between parent and child, any of the above activities would not significantly affect the parent - child relationship in the long run.
Our ultimate responsibility
Because children are totally dependent on adults from the beginning, parents are ultimately responsible for creating the bond of love between them, since children initially are just receptacles for parental caring and love. Parent maturity is a necessary component in establishing this authentic love relationship. Parents require enormous patience and the ability to sacrifice unconditionally, which can be a continual challenge.
Our main mission in life is to help our children find their intended path. This is not easy. It requires that we help them find, nurture and value their God given gifts as if they were emeralds. We need to treat them with respect so they will learn to respect themselves. We need to allow them to be responsible within the limits of their abilities. Being responsible and using their talents is how children gain genuine self esteem. Adults have to temper their tendency to over -criticize and over- praise children. It is a constant balancing act that is only controlled by close observation and a loving heart.
But it is critical for children to feel like contributing members in a family, this is how they earn their self worth. Self esteem is acquired only by effort and accomplishment. It’s not possible to acquire self-esteem any other way, especially not from doting adults who falsely praise. Children know when they have not earned accolades. False praise only results in an inflated ego and a sense of entitlement without effort on the child’s part.
Traditionally it seems our goal for children is for them to become successfully employed and independent. If this occurs, it is often the answer to a parent’s dream. But there is a more primary component to measuring success for our children. It comes from their acquiring and developing their life skills. It is accomplished when they demonstrate an appreciation of the value of human life; they understand the need to give respect and service to others; they realize that society’s engine is not totally fueled by financial gain. Their self-worth is found in their personal sense of identity. They learn to love others and to love themselves.
Though we need responsible, financially productive people to have a productive society, we must always guard against overvaluing our monetary and material success. It may unbalance and overwhelm our true purpose. This could be devastating in the long run.
To fully help our children develop to their potential, we are reminded that we need to listen to them. They are not all okay; some are crying out and we do not hear them. They have a need to feel that they are valued and loved by the adults in their lives. They need help in recognizing and honing their talents and abilities. Some children are just stuck; some are totally lacking the basics of food, shelter and safety. In the extreme cases where basic necessities are lacking, we can have little expectation for their maturity and personal achievement until they are fed, clothed and safe. It is up to all of us to encourage and create havens for deprived children in our world.
We are asking all adults to become involved in children’s lives to stem their isolation. They need heroes in their lives who will be there for them when they are happy and not happy; when they are afraid and when they feel brave; when they don’t understand the way life is treating them. Those people can be parents, grandparents, other relatives, neighbors, teachers and family friends.
It’s vital to connect with our children on a personal, loving level. They need to know that we are genuinely in love with them and that we genuinely care about them. It is important that they can rely on us under any circumstance. An authentic relationship is built on a daily, step by-step process of listening, nurturing and appreciating the words of our children. Observe the pureness of their intent and recognize that they need our help every step of the way. They also need to be able to contribute in everyday life. They need to find their value through being a working, task completing member in the family and community. They can set the table, or take out the garbage. They can volunteer to read to the elderly. They need to learn that ‘work’ is not a bad word. Work is how we gain pride and self respect.
Tokens of love
We invite you to use a powerful tool to keep the doors of communication open with your children and adults. You give them a symbol of your love that is meaningful to you both and can provide comfort to your child for a lifetime. It doesn’t have to be something that is expensive, but it has to be significant. It might be as simple as a picture of you both from a special moment in your lives, or a small scrap of a baby quilt that has memories. This token represents the love that you have and will always have between each other. It represents the bond that you both carry in your hearts.
Once you have given this heartfelt gift it then becomes a communication tool as well. You make an agreement with your child that this gift is also a ‘magic key’ he or she can bring to you when they have a problem and need to talk about it to you. It is their unique signal to you that you need to listen to them now, no matter what you’re doing. Tell your child that this will provide an open lane and access to you; that they will always be your priority in this situation.
If we find ourselves back in our self created, frantic pace of life, it is important to stop and take a deep breath. That breath should fill you with confidence that your true spirit is there for the asking and will guide you with the Light. To clarify your purpose, make a list of what is really important to you. Make sure that your children are at the top of that list. If you do not have children, be sure you include them in your life through relatives, friends, and neighbors. Children are divine spirits, as are we. They desire and deserve self worth and love. We all do.
By Jill Little