There’s something unique about being a member of a family that really needs you in order to function well. One of the deepest longings a parent can have is to feel needed and essential.
In the giving of help, a parent experiences one of the best feelings that any of us can have: that life has meaning because we are needed by someone else. Watching a baby grow with our help tells us other things we like to feel about ourselves: that we are competent and loving.
Just as it takes time for children to understand what real love is, it takes time for parents to understand that being always patient, quiet, even-tempered, and respectful isn’t necessarily what “good” parents are.
Parents help children by expressing a wide range of feelings — including appropriate anger. All children need to see that the adults in their lives can feel anger and not hurt themselves or anyone else when they feel that way.
I strongly believe that infants and babies whose parents give them loving comfort whenever and however they can are the truly fortunate ones. I think they’re more likely to find life’s times of trouble manageable, and I think they may also turn out to be the adults most able to pass loving concern along to the generations that follow after them.
You bring all you ever were and are to the parent-child relationship that you have today.
Children who have learned to be “comfortably” dependent can become not only comfortably independent but can also become comfortable with having other people depend on them. They can lean, or stand and be leaned upon because they know what a good feeling it can be to feel needed.
By helping our children learn to be self-disciplined, we are also helping them learn how to become independent of us as, sooner or later, they must. And we are helping them learn how to be loving parents to children of their own.
It’s true that we take a great deal of our own upbringing on into our adult lives and our lives as parents; but it’s true, too, that we can change some of the things we would like to change. It can be hard, but it can be done.
We want to raise our children so that they can take a sense of pleasure in both their own heritage and the diversity of others.
Please think of the children first. If you ever have anything to do with their entertainment, their food, their toys, their custody, their day or night care, their healthcare, their education — listen to the children, learn about them, learn from them. Think of your children first.
I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings — ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else — we’re helping to make our world a safer, better place.