Love is a hard word to describe, and even harder to live out. When you’ve been in love, you know it! You experience a type of euphoria that’s addictive, yet not sustainable. But, love can come in many different forms and parts of speech! It’s a noun, a verb, and even an adjective. The love that’s sustainable is an action, and if you’re a parent, you understand this type of unconditional love.
There is nothing like the love and connection you form with your child. You’d do literally anything for them. Jump off a bridge, throw yourself in front of a moving car, or sprint into a fire. Hopefully, you’ll need not do any of the above but loving our children is the single most important thing we can do as parents.
Why? Because children who feel loved are more secure, more empathetic, and more likely to love others. Humans who feel loved can lead productive lives and overcome obstacles. People who feel loved may live up to their potential because they don’t have that voice in their head that is critical, doubtful, or cruel. If we don’t feel loved, there is a void.
We love our children when we:
- tell them they are loved
- teach them right from wrong
- forgive them
- recognize effort and compliment them
- tell them they are appreciated
- hold them accountable
- pay attention and listen to them
- know when to help them, and when to make them help themselves
- accept them
That’s hard enough to do! However, when thinking about how we best can love our children, the foundation is loving ourselves! It doesn’t mean sacrificing the needs and wants of others to get what we want; that’s self-serving. The best way to love others and sustain a healthy, loving relationship is to be the best person, and subsequently, the best parent we can be. We cannot fully love others if we don’t love ourselves. Yes, we’ve heard this for years from Oprah and self-help books when referring to romantic relationships but loving ourselves will help us be loving parents. People who don’t have their own lives figured out and are searching for happiness externally cannot fully love another. First, we must love ourselves.
If we aren’t being honest with ourselves, then we aren’t modeling how to be genuine, truthful people. If we aren’t practicing kindness and patience within ourselves, we cannot expect our children to practice good self-care. If we don’t take time for our passions, then our kids don’t get to witness joy and strength from the people they admire and look up to. If we don’t believe or even hope things will get better, our children don’t witness the power of positive thinking. If we don’t protect ourselves, emotionally or physically, then our children don’t feel safe and protected. As parents, we must remind ourselves that our children are watching. They don’t usually acknowledge that they care or even always respect our decisions, but they are taking it all in.
To fully love others, we must first take care of ourselves. So, let’s revisit the list above and this time, let’s decide to do these things for ourselves. Before we fully and actively love someone else, we need to remind ourselves to do the same for ourselves. Make the ‘them’ a ‘myself‘ in the list. We will be happier parents equipped to give more to our children. By loving ourselves unconditionally, we will unconditionally love others too. And, that is the greatest gift.
Happy Valentine’s Day! XOXO