Children bloom in safe hands of loving parents

YOU open your eyes at last and look upwards.

There, looking down at you are the faces of the gods.

Your life, your survival, your destiny will be determined by the will of these gods.

But what kind of gods will they be?

While this might be reminiscent of some ancient Greek mythology, it can in fact be far closer to home, indeed the journey we have all been on: being born.

While I want to say something important here about parenting, I want to reach into something inside each of us, something very primal, about what it means to be helpless when we are born.

Being so helpless, so fragile, we are actually completely dependent on others to have our needs fulfilled. We need those parent-gods to love us, in order for us to even survive.

If they did not love us, they could abandon us, and we would feel the hand of death upon us, even before we could know what the concept is.

For us humans, love, safety, survival, and death are intertwined in us before we can even start to develop conscious, rational thought.

When our parent-gods are loving, benevolent, patient, kind, generous, giving of attention, and happy within themselves and the role that they play, then we feel safe to explore and grow.

We can develop a sense of trust in the essential goodness and rightness of ourselves, confident in our wholeness and completeness.

When our parent-gods are distant and brooding, angry and malicious, scornful and shaming, using us to get their own needs met, then we must somehow become different to what we are in order to somehow win favour.

It is no longer about being able to meet our needs to enjoy the world, it is suddenly all about meeting the parents' needs, something that is impossible for an infant human to ever fulfil.

Regardless of what our upbringing was like, we have all felt the sting of knowing what it was like to feel not good enough.

When we can learn to trust our parents will be loving, and kind, and give us the attention we crave, and to do so consistently, we gain a sense of hope.

As adults, we ask ourselves, what is my sense of hope like?

Am I doomed to failure no matter what I do, or do I feel a sense of power in me to go out with certainty and tackle the challenges of the day?

As a parent, it is essential to recognise the developmental needs of our children for loving time and attention.

Because we all know what it feels like not to have it, and how amazing it feels to be truly loved.

Paul Stewart is a Personal Coach with Compassion Coaching, and also supports the inSight Men's Circle and Teen Tribe programs run through Hopelink 4979 

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