One of the things I enjoy doing is writing. Each of my books focuses on dramatic themes which we can all relate with. My characters desire to love and to be loved. They want security, significance, purpose, hope, meaning and grace.
Dr. Tim Kimmel, in his book, Grace Based Parenting says we all need a secure love. He defines secure love as a steady and sure love written on the hard drive of a child’s soul. He says it’s the “complete love that they default to when their hearts are under attack. It’s the kind of love that children can confidently carry with them into the future.” He says real love “is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost.” (p. 52)
He writes that most of us move into adulthood insecure because the love we received from our parents was incomplete. He says “sometimes our love is incomplete because our children feel they constantly have to compete for it. We tell them we love them and then they watch us make decisions regarding our careers, friends, or our pastimes that directly undermine our ability to invest the time in them that love requires.” (p. 49)
I guess this works for our grandchildren or nieces and nephews as well. This past week I twigged onto something significant. When my youngest granddaughter (4 years of age) sees me, she smiles, waves or calls out a greeting. When I do the same thing back, we have a contact point. My daughter and her family live upstairs so we have frequent chances to see each other. But something different happens when I get down on my knees and throw my arms open wide. She runs to me and flings herself into my arms. Three times I tried getting down on her level this week and the reaction was the same each time. A love shared on the same level where another lives is a love that woos us into relationship.
Kimmel adds that sometimes “our love is incomplete because our children feel like they have to earn it. They figure out that they receive our praise and pride when they do things that make us look good or make our jobs as parents easier. These are kids who have to process a lot of guilt before they can find approval.” (p. 51)
It’s important not to import negative patterns from our own family of origin into the way we raise our children. I’m hoping that as you work through the 12 Tasks with your son or daughter that you will rediscover the depth of real love that lasts. This love involves helping your child feel secure through helping them understand that they are accepted as they are. Affirming their strengths does this naturally. Exploring their growth areas needs to be done with gentleness and compassion without any form of manipulation. Understanding the unique emotional, intellectual and physical makeup of your child will take you a long way to making wise choices with them.
“Children feel secure when they know they are affiliated with a loving and honouring family…” and “when they receive and feel generous helpings of affection.”(pp.61-65). Be willing to make things right where you’ve fallen short and stay on your knees with your arms wide open.
If you’re feeling alone in your parenting challenges reach out to some of the experienced pilgrims around you. We are all on this journey. Some of us, just a little further down the road. Take a step today and it will determine where you end up tomorrow.