Okay, enough talk for a while about redirecting behaviors that seem counter-intuitive to best practices parenting – snowplow parents, hothouse parents, helicopter parents…. With the hope that these seeds already have been planted to grow new ideas about parenting styles (we’ll come back to water this garden in future posts!), today I would like to validate the motivation behind these cautionary techniques: unconditional love! Loving someone regardless of their actions or beliefs is an overriding parental emotion and has been consistently expressed by readers who can relate to recent posts on an intellectual level, but who also find it a force to resist almost greater than gravity itself!
Author Robert Munch sets the scene when the mother in “Love You Forever” sings to her sleeping baby: “I’ll love you forever/ I’ll love you for always/ As long as I’m living/ My baby you’ll be.” The tender tale finds this mom reprising the same lullaby as her child becomes a peevish toddler, then a messy 9-year-old, and even a rowdy teenager. Here, the story morphs into a parable when she presumably climbs a ladder into his bedroom window when he is a grownup! Eventually, as the story continues, the roles reverse when the mother is too old and too sick to hold her son. Of course, the classic tale is really a memory of the man’s love for his mother, and she enters his room only in his own head – it is an allegory about the importance of unconditional love between parent and child.
Now I challenge you to get through this story dry-eyed! It’s one of those legends that often is passed on at bedtime from one generation to the next. That detail, in itself, illustrates the loving bond and the circle of life from which we all activate our parenting approaches.
Dr. Ed Hallowell talks about this phenomenon in his book, “The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness.” He explains, “One of the major mistakes good parents make is to assume that one certain root system is best…. These parents dig up the sapling of childhood over and over again, trying to rearrange the roots… but as any farmer can tell you, such work is best left to nature.”
To some extent, today’s parents are victims of media labels and psychology spin doctors, because Munch’s tender ode to unconditional love predates the terms that are being used to describe the parenting modes for Millennials, kids born towards the end of the 20th century and the very beginning of the next. Now, I am not overturning my previous posts which exemplify our affinity for clearing the path, for engineering the finished product, or for hovering overhead! But I am endorsing the gut feelings that drive us unreservedly toward those actions.
As one blog reader recently commented, “You’ve created this little person, this angel, as you see him, the light of your life and a love greater than you ever knew. You want to shelter him from every evil….”
So here’s a thought – maybe it’s about sowing a level of inner peace, helping to instill inner confidence and contentment in that little angel. Maybe it’s also about celebrating all that is right about parenting today, where unconditional love is recognized as the underpinning of a connected and happy childhood. Dr. Hallowell calls it “a crazy love that never quits…a magic wand… it is what makes being a parent such a deepening experience, a voyage right into the core of life.
“The value of such constant love is summed up beautifully in the reply of a famous man who was asked how he had achieved so much in his life. He said, ‘In my mother’s eyes I only saw smiles.’”
Infinite and measureless – the power of a parent’s love; take heart.