How to love your children.
All parents love their children, right? This seems a cliche and yet when we become a new mother or a father we are often disoriented by tons of conflicting information on parenting. When my first child was born I was very vulnerable and naive. My heart was telling me one thing and media and friends were giving me the opposite instructions on how to be a mother. In the industrialized world women very often live in an isolated place, far from immediate family, far from wisdom of our relatives. In past, people lived in a community and had larger families so naturally young girls would witness the birth of a new baby and would be familiar with all aspects of caring for a baby and child. As they matured into a womanhood and became mothers themselves they knew the how to care for a child and were familiar with some of the emotional aspects of it.
In today's world new mothers are desperate for advice. Not only they need to learn how to diaper their child and which diapers to use (as there are many brands and types of diapers nowadays) but also they have to figure out what is their mothering style. If you search high and low you will find out many definitions and labels for different parenting approaches. They range from Attachment Parenting or AP to authoritarian parenting, you name it.
Listen to your heart.
So how do you choose which style is your own? In my opinion it takes some time to figure out how you respond to your own child. You may take your neighbor's advice at face value and let your little one cry his lungs out as you are trying to avoid picking him up from his crib in attempt not to spoil him. Or you may want to listen to your mother-in-law's tips on childrearing. Or you may actually slow down and try to listen to what your own heart is telling you. Whenever I made decisions based on what I was feeling deep inside my heart they turned out to be good ones. In no way I am implying that you should not use a common sense, what I am trying to convey, is that, when in doubt, LISTEN TO YOUR HEART, especially when it concerns your children.
Flashback to my childhood
There were times when I wondered whether my children were trying to deceive me by saying they were hungry just before bedtime. An angry parent in me was assuming they were just stalling to delay the inevitable. But as I listened to my heart and had a flashback to times when I hadn't been able to fall asleep in my bed simply because I was hungry, I let them eat a morsel. And interestingly, after they had eaten a little, they went to sleep without any fuss. Would I have allowed this angry parent in me and discarded their small voice, they would have gone hungry to sleep. There were numerous times when I had to go down from my pedestal and rethink the ways I was mothering because I was clearly channeling the ways of my parents. Instead, I chose to listen to that inner voice in my heart to find solutions to problems, solutions that were based on love instead on power control.
They deserve our understanding and compassion.
In my own experience there are no hard-and-fast rules on how to be a good parent except for that one. That one has always worked for me and my family. FOLLOW YOUR HEART. I believe it depends on what you want for your children. If it is money and a good carrier you may want to use your parenting power to force them into obedient and submissive children who will bring straight A's and get a job you desire for them. However, if you want them to grow into independent, happy adults with good self esteem and compassionate, you may want to use different tools as a parent. One of these is using your love and compassion. Children are little human beings who deserve our respect and love.