Tag Archives: acknowledgment

The one job of a parent

The one job of a parent

Almost every time I’ve listened to the stories of someone lacking self-confidence or going through recurring relationship problems, depression, anger, etc. I’ve heard one of a child who felt  they weren’t loved, weren’t loved as much as another sibling, or were loved conditionally e.g. by good grades, winning, doing chores etc.

Mom/Dad didn’t love me because ..

Children associate attention, touch and approval with love and when parents withhold them, children think love is being withheld.  They try to make sense of it and they wrongly conclude that something must be wrong with them.   These poor kids then they go through the rest of their lives focusing on confirming evidence for their conclusion, blind to almost all parental acts that contradict their defining theme: “I’m unlovable because there’s something wrong with me.”

hence the need for Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Deepak Chopra

The consequence of this drives much of the self-help, coaching and psychiatric industries.  Children who carry this story into adulthood have relationship and career problems because they are angry, fearful, depressed, lack self-confidence and more.  Great for Oprah, Dr. Phil and their lesser disciples but they wouldn’t be needed so much if children simply felt …

loved no matter what

If children felt the love of their parents was unconditional the world would a better place.  There might be a lot more loving, self-confident, generous people who shared and cared for each other, who supported each other’s dreams and are able to admit wrong.

But how does a parent communicate unconditional love when their child is constantly behaving badly … dammit!

Decoupling approval from love

Perhaps the toughest thing for a parent to do is to guide and nurture appropriate behaviour without with-holding love.  Destructive habit-forming behaviour needs to stop now and the most obvious way to do that is to show disapproval, and punish.

The trick is to decouple these from love.  For a young child in the process of forming their view of the world and what things mean it’s natural to collapse attention, approval, and touch with love.  When these are withheld it’s natural for a child to think that love is also being withheld so it’s important to demonstrate that love is still there even though mom and dad disapprove of behaviour.

Try practicing acknowledgments

All a parent has to do is practice the simple act of acknowledging the love they have for a child,(indeed even with their spouse or siblings), independent of any behaviour e.g. getting a good grade, winning a contest, performing a chore etc.

A frequent practice of letting a child know they are loved independent of behaviour or performance is the best way to communicate unconditional love.  And acknowledging a child doesn’t mean always saying the words “I love you;” it could simply be a hug for no reason, or an authentically asked “What did you do today?”

This I think is the best way to decouple disapproval, punishment etc. from love.

Demonstrate unconditional love

The one job of a parent—if it could be distilled into one thing— is to make sure their children get that they are loved no matter what; they are loved for who they are and who they are not; they’re loved just because they are them.

The best way I know how to do that is to always have time each day or at least each week to communicate and show interest in what’s going on in a child’s life.  This works great among us grown-ups as well.

It’s ironic that all of our communication tools and social apps facilitate shallow communication with thousands of people, but with no depth to even one person.

For that we still need that old-fashioned killer app called conversation.

Through conversation you celebrate victories, learn from defeats, create dreams, revive careers, show gratitude and nurture healthy relationships.

Through frequent authentic conversation you can acknowledge the beauty and inherent worth in your children, you can remind them that they are loved, no matter what.  That more than anything else will prepare them for living a great life.

Click here for an example of a Dad who seems to be doing that with his kids.

Take responsibility, don’t apologise

Take responsibility, don’t apologise

An apology is the best way to heal the relationship damage we cause when our mistakes hurt people. But there are times—usually in political situations—when offering an apology is not in your best interest. I once found myself in a difficult position where despite working very hard I made an unbelievable goof that had myContinue Reading

Must everything change?

Ever marvel at how fast the world is changing?  Consider the following: Kids today have never used far less seen a rotary telephone. Microsoft is now an underdog. Google now looks vulnerable Facebook is the new big brother The ipod is old news, and the iPad soon will be too. If ever there was aContinue Reading

“The Practice of Acknowledgments“ Available on Amazon

My first book “The Practice of Acknowledgments – How to Experience More Caring and Rewarding Relationships in Your Personal and Professional Life,” is now available on Amazon. I wrote this book to help make people aware of a very simple yet powerful practice that literally can transform relationships in an instant, as well as haveContinue Reading

“Shit Happens” as a course in high school

The earlier we learn to identify and deal with the non-organic poo in our lives the better off we will be. So perhaps we should offer a course in high school (secondary school) that gives kids an opportunity to observe this naturally occurring phenomenon, and to ponder the impact on their lives of not learningContinue Reading

Nothing is ever 100% anybody’s fault

Nothing is ever 100% anybody’s fault

If you find yourself blaming someone for some unwelcome outcome or a broken relationship, you might want to consider that nothing is ever 100% anybody’s fault. Accepting this requires an ability to expand your perspective on any situation. For example, in criminal justice it may be relatively easy to prove who robbed the convenience storeContinue Reading

Do you acknowledge people for “just” doing their jobs?

Do you acknowledge people for “just” doing their jobs?

Do you think you should acknowledge people for just doing their jobs; for just doing what they’re supposed to? Many people would say, “No, of course not!  They’re doing the absolute minimum required and it’s only service or results over and above the norm that should be acknowledged or rewarded.” If you think this way, pleaseContinue Reading

The Hug – the killer app of acknowledgments

This is an excerpt from my upcoming book on “The Practice of Acknowledgments”.  Hugs are to acknowledgments what wireless is to the internet.  Nothing quite says I see you and your being around means a lot to me than a hug.  As part of the human need to belong, to be acknowledged, we all needContinue Reading

Customer Service Rep

Customer Service Rep

“But that’s not what’s happening,” I said feeling the irritation in my body and hearing it in my tone.  I could tell that the poor customer service representative, who was trying her very best to help me, could feel it also. I had called in to address a problem I was having with my newContinue Reading

Acknowledging what’s there

Feel like typing this morning.  Talking with my fingers.  Usually I prefer to handwrite with my fountain pen in the mornings.  Very therapeutic I find … a good way to corral “free radical” thoughts that could do damage if not captured and put away somewhere.  This morning my computer seems the best place to doContinue Reading

Say something nice to a stranger

Say something nice to a stranger

A while back, I was standing in the elevator of my building and this woman came in with her kids, and somehow we started talking.  Nothing unusual, and then she said, “I’ve seen you around the building, and you seem like such a nice man.”  She seemed to be a native Spanish speaker and thisContinue Reading