My wife and I had a our third child—-a boy—-a little more than two years ago. There’s an eight-year gap between his older sister and a ten-year gap with his oldest.
So this isn’t our first time on the parental carousel of baby-belly laughs, sleep deprivation and dirty diapers—-although it’s been a while.
However, as 40-somethings, we still had to repeat a lot of things that most first-timers do—-such as registering for a baby shower and attending birth classes as well as touring the hospital’s birthing center.
During the run up to his actual birth, we ran into a lot of young couples who were on-track to be first-time parents.
Universally, every expectant couple we met talked about how they “… love the idea of being parents …" or plan to "… shower their baby with love…" or how they aspire to be “… more loving…” than their own parents were.
Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.
Love seemed to be front and center for all the would-be parents we met, and I’m certain that emotion is prominent for the vast majority of prospective parents who anxiously await the birth of a child.
There are other aspects of parenting beyond love that must not be forgotten during the early years of raising a healthy, well-adjusted child
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of parental love as much as the next dad—-parental love for a child is critically important!
But there are other aspects of parenting beyond love that must not be forgotten during the early years of raising a healthy, well-adjusted child.
Child development experts agree that security and stability are equally important as love for the healthy nurturing of a child. Children must feel safe and be safe to thrive.
The news frequently reports on stories where very loving parents unwittingly leave their child under the supervision of an abusive caregiver or nanny. There are also incidents where a loving parent bathing a child leaves the baby unattended for a moment to return to the tub where the little one is totally submerged.
Every single parent is human and prone to mistakes—-sometimes those mistakes trump love.
Or the parent who merely places their child in a car seat or infant carrier but forgets to buckle them. Or a parent who unwittingly backs their vehicle over their own child who was playing in the driveway or garage.
These things happen and they happen independently of how much love a parent has for their kiddo.
Many parents I’ve spoken with say if you truly love your child you don’t let those types of things happen, but I’m here to tell you that tragic accidents can occur no matter how much you love your kid.
That’s because every single parent is human and prone to mistakes—-sometimes those mistakes trump love.
Beyond providing a safe physical environment to ensure the child’s health and security, parents must also focus on each other and invest in each other to ensure a healthy, secure relational foundation for their offspring.
Parents must make a host of decisions on behalf of their kids for the benefit of their kids.
Children simply lack the experience, knowledge, discipline, and understanding to know what’s really good for them, especially when they don’t necessarily like it—-can you say cruciferous veggies???
That’s one of the responsibilities parents have to assume on behalf of their kids.
There are plenty of well-intended parents who claim to love their children but who give their kids everything they want because they want their little ones to be “happy.” Or parents who let their kids do or eat whatever they want for the same faulty reason—-all in the name of love.
But that’s not love; it’s lousy decision making in the short term by the parents that will ultimately hurt their child in the long term.
Good “little” decisions by parents add up to good “big” decisions as children grow.
This factor is no less important than the others. The tough economic downturn of the past few years has driven busy dual-income families to focus on making ends meet rather focusing on time with their kids.
Raising well-adjusted kids requires parents to be present and available when the kids need them – not the other way around
Unfortunately, work requirements force many parents into loving their children from afar, while providing the kids with substitute creature comforts and surrogate caregivers.
That may be a necessary reality for some families and situations, but there’s frankly no substitute for hands-on parenting.
Raising well-adjusted kids requires parents to be present and available when the kids need them—-not the other way around.
It’s common sense that if you want a strong future relationship with your child, you need to build a strong relationship in the present. One of the best ways to demonstrate that you love your kids is to be present for them when they need you.
I know it’s not easy. I’m not saying it is easy. It’s actually very challenging being a good parent.
It takes work, commitment, sacrifice, intentionality—-all of which need to accompany, and go beyond, love alone.
Originally appeared at The Good Men Project
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