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The Cycle of Love


Parenting children who have been abused, neglected or institutionalized is a hard, slow trek through the unknown.  There is absolutely no way we as parents can know what has hurt our children, what has left an indelible skid mark on their tiny, developing brains.  We know only what we are told, what our children offer up to us of their most painful memories.   Oh yes, and what they act out for us in the form of tantrums, random age regression, outright disregard for our gifts of love and care.  Nancy Thomas said it so well in her book title, “When Love Is Not Enough” because alas, sometimes our love and care is just not enough to heal the wounds our children have suffered. 

There are sometimes windows of opportunity. For example,  when a child feels sick, he may become more accepting of  our nurturing.   Chicken noodle soup, crackers, medicine that tastes good, fluffing pillows and taking temperatures with our nice cool hands can make a big difference in the bonding cycles of our children.  Even the coolest, most “mature” teenager is vulnerable when suffering  through those miserable colds or flu viruses, sprained or broken body parts. That’s  because they feel so bad, they have little choice but to submit to our care and concern. 

Don’t pay attention to those family members who make comments about how you are spoiling your child by tucking them into bed with Sprite, soup and crackers on a tray, complete with a flower or small toy. 

Most of the time, our most distant and unconnected children don’t even cry out when they fall and have blood running down their knee or elbow.  Take those opportunities to kiss their booboos (after cleaning and bandaging the hurt body part), and make over their hurt a bit before they blow you off by running off with their friends or siblings.  What we are teaching our children is that we will be there to meet their needs, even when earlier needs went unmet or met inconsistently.

I wrote this week’s blog because I am taking care of my rough, tough, thirteen year old son and his rather bad head cold.  This is the third one of the season and while it is frustrating that he has yet another cold that I could catch, I take the opportunity to nurture him, ooh and ah over his low grade fever and feed him chicken soup with crackers, root beer and not one but two videos he wants to watch on his tray.  He feels pampered and cared for in a special way when I take care of him.  This is particularly important since he is older and moving away from his parents and trying to be a grownup. 

So try to be aware of those chances to shore your love.  They get fewer and farther apart. Before you know it, children grow up.  An added bonus comes when our formerly unattached children grow up to be loving, nurturing and caring parents in their own right.  I call it the Cycle of Love.

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