Remember when we were kids and we craved our parent’s attention? We’d call their names and plead for them to watch whatever we were doing: a cartwheel, an energetic dance or, perhaps leaping high into the air. It was as if, our actions lacked value until our parents observed them. We needed them to bear witness to our existence and to demonstrate through their attention that our efforts counted in their eyes.
This loop of attention requested and attention granted strengthened our relationship and encouraged us to persist. Parental attention is a valuable commodity in a child’s world. Passionately sought, it has the power to shape children’s behavior, beliefs and self-esteem. As parents we are on the dispensing end of these transactions now and are mindful of the responsibility this places on our shoulders.
When our children seek our attention, praise and evaluation, provide it with a compassionate heart. Remember they are on a steep learning curve of life. Our children have much growing and learning ahead of them. They need our encouragement far more than the best-intentioned criticism. Be their champion, their cheerleader that notices, appreciates and validates their talents. As adoptive parents, it is especially important that we allow our children to grow into their best selves—the ones who arise from their DNA. We must encourage them, foster their growing skills and intellect. Most importantly, we must not force them into a box defined by our expectations. Children have tender hearts and spirits. Nurture them with care, kindness and love.
Watch this video about a puppy destined to become a service dog. His trainer invests huge amounts of time and heart to make this result a reality. But puppy’s destiny … Watch the video; it’s a wonderful metaphor for parenting with love and acceptance.