Creative Child

The Incredible Gift of Loving Your Child “As Is”

by Rebecca Eanes

I read a beautiful article today by Krista O’Reilly called How to Get Comfortable with the Discomfort of Parenting. In it, she discussed how her late mother loved her “as is” and what a gift that was to her. She said, “My mom saw me for the fullness of who I was and liked me. She didn’t try to change me or mold me into her image. She listened well and delighted in me.”

I am reminded of the words of Dr. Thomas Gordon. “Acceptance is like the fertile soil that permits a tiny seed to develop into the lovely flower it is capable of becoming. The soil only enables the seed to become the flower. It releases the capacity of the seed to grow, but the capacity is entirely within the seed. As with the seed, a child contains entirely within his organism the capacity to develop. Acceptance is like the soil - it merely enables the child to actualize his potential.”

These two quotes highlight an essential ingredient to raising emotionally healthy children – acceptance. And not just acceptance, but delight. It’s not only accepting what you see but liking it. Yet much of our parenting language is the language of unacceptance, as Dr. Thomas Gordon points out in this article. In our efforts to grow good children, parents sometimes resort to pointing out what needs changed or “fixed” in the child. We point out the parts we find unacceptable.

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With the best of intentions, we criticize, judge, and correct until the spirit that came to us vibrant and whole is withered or broken.

We may shape and squeeze and struggle, trying desperately to make them fit into a box never meant for them so they can, in our opinion, do better in life, as though we are the judge of that. In doing so, we may inadvertently squeeze out the very best parts of our children – the parts that made them unique, creative, free, and fierce. The parts that made them happy.

While we may end up with a child we deem acceptable and approve of at last, the price a child’s emotional well-being is too high to pay.

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