The first thing parents can do is to see life
through their child's perspective. Is he feeling all
the love the parents feel for him? Most parents love
their child infinitely so? They'd give up their life
for him if indeed it ever came to that. The question
isn't whether or not parents love their children.
The question is whether or not the child feels that
amount of love. Parents need to stop and see if the
love they are feeling is getting through to their
Dorothy Corkille Briggs
writes in Your Child 's Self Esteem, "There's a big difference
between being loved and feeling loved. It is the child's feeling
about being loved or unloved that affects how he will deveolp."
A child's inner knowing, "I am loved," makes all the difference
in the world regarding his behavior or misbehavior. In short,
towards his future as a caring, compassionate responsible human
Parent's need to spend time asking themselves, "does my child
feel all this love that I have for him?" If they think that you
don't, then parents should commit to do things differently, to
ensure they will feel loved.
Briggs writes about what she calls "Genuine Encounter
Moments," (GEM) as a powerful way for parents to show their
love, and more importantly, for the child to feel loved. Simply
put, a GEM is a focused attention between the parent and the
child, with affection, love and eye contact. The parent is fully
present physically, as well as emotionally and mentally. The
parent is only focus on the child, not the laundry, work, or
what's on the news. To the child, time equals love. This is
It does matter what the activity is; checkers, a guessing or
board game, Barbies, peek-a-boo, or telling jokes. What matters
is the emotional presence of the parent with the child, creating
happy memories together. One mother cheerfully listens every day
to her seven year old son tell her all about Ford and Chevrolet
trucks. That's great!
How often is a genuine encounter needed? The more the better!
Children never outgrow the need for a genuine encounter. Each
day parents need to spend uninterrupted time with their child,
the child's need to misbehave decreases. A child who misbehaves,
may be letting his actions demonstrate his need for love and
attention--a genuine encounter! Children need the focused
attention every day, but certainly not when they are demanding
Many parents have experienced that just this simple (yet
profound) idea of genuine encounters has greatly improved their
relationship with their children. Spending time with your
children need to be at the top of the daily to-do list and not
postponed until tomorrow. Briggs writes, "If children feel your
wholehearted presence periodically, they can tolerate times when
your attention is elsewhere."
My mother (a mother of three) recently said that when we were
growing up, kids could take it for granted that mom and dad
loved them. But it's so much harder now in the 90's than it was
in the 50's and 60's with all the changes and stresses of the
times. With that in mind, parents need to consciously make the
effort to ensure their children feel included, valued, and
loved. Regular "Genuine Encounter Moments" could be that magic
formula after all!