What is the greatest gift that you can personally give your child? Take a moment and think about your answer.
It it LOVE?
Love is a wonderful thing, but nope. I don’t think so. Love is not enough. We’ve all heard of parents who probably loved their kids very much, but lost them due to neglect or abuse. I don’t think we can always say that abusive parents don’t love their children. Even neglectful parents may love their kids. But they don’t have the tools, knowledge, or mental health to be good parents.
So I ask again, what is the greatest gift you can give your child? Ponder before reading further.
Okay, here’s my theory: The greatest gift you can give your child is ENERGY.
Energy? My kid’s energetic enough already!
I’m referring to YOUR parental time, attention, and focus. Your active life force. I mean the physical, mental, and emotional effort required for dressing, feeding, teaching, disciplining, cuddling, transporting, caring, and loving your child. It’s doing what must be done, even when we don’t feel like it. It’s being there–being present, being available, being interested, and being involved. That takes energy.
But energy can be expended on a child in negative ways, like through abuse.
True. But I would wager that the most common form of abuse by far is neglect—the lack of parental energy. And in a child’s innocent mind, energy, even expended in negative ways, is usually preferable to the absence of it.
With this concept in mind—that the greatest gift we can give to our kids is energy–we can see many aspects of parenting in a new way. Consider discipline, for example. If our child misbehaves and we sit down and expend energy in a ten-minute lecture, we have essentially rewarded our son or daughter. If the child gets mouthy and we engage in a screaming match, we have rewarded him again with our energy. This is why time-outs should be swift, with almost zero conversation or attention paid to the child. The kid is quietly placed on the naughty stool and the timer is set. Period. No discussion. Minimal energy. When the child is well-behaved, energy and attention should be revved up.
Recognizing that your energy is your greatest gift to your child means that you must make sure you have plenty of it available. This means getting ample rest, exercise, and healthy food. It means cutting non-essentials that draw from your precious supply. It also means knowing when your strength is running low and having the courage to ask for support or a break in order to recharge. As a young mother of an autistic and diabetic child, I often felt that I had to be Supermom. I thought asking for help meant I was a failure. Parents, be good to yourselves.
Special needs kids require a whole lot of energy. Thank you for giving it so freely and unconditionally.
Kristyn Crow is the author of this blog. Visit her website by clicking here. Some links on this blog may have been generated by outside sources are not necessarily endorsed by Kristyn Crow.