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Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

Smart Kids from Smart Love

Synopsis: This mini love lesson covers love and IQ; the well loved human child; brains and love; love with smarts and success; what is well loved?; and the smart parent challenge.

Love and IQ

Take any two babies of any mammal species (like rats, rabbits, monkeys, apes and humans) and the one most well-loved will likely be the smarter of the two.

For baby rodents the lovingly licked and groomed will learn the psychologist’s maze faster and remember it longer than the one raised by less loving rodent parents.  The cuddled, caressed, petted, kindly fed and comforted when upset larger mammals produce the same kind of results, indicating the better-loved ones are smarter than the lesser-loved ones.

The same is true for every kind of primate where the well-loved appear smarter, handle stress better, are better at social interaction, are more curious, are less susceptible to disease and live longer.  In laboratory tests the well-loved primates figure out puzzles faster, find hidden food sooner, obtain higher social rank and, oh yes, mate more often and make better parents to their own young later.

The Well-Loved Human Child

A human child who receives lots of well demonstrated, loving touch in the form of hugs, cuddles, kisses, pats and strokes and  verbal love especially in the form of affirmation including challenge and encouragement will score higher on IQ tests than children with lesser amounts of loving input.  In research with at least some identical twins, raised separately, the twin who receives well-demonstrated love most likely will have a higher IQ than the one who receives less well-demonstrated love.

Children raised in poverty who receive more love actions in the first years of life are much more likely to go on to graduate from high school and much less likely to become felons than are children raised in poverty who receive less well-demonstrated love actions.  Well-loved children also handle stress better and suffer much less from stress-related illnesses.  This is especially true if in their environment there is loving attention given which helps these children feel securely loved.

Brains and Love

When scientists studying the brains of the well-loved versus the less-loved they have found distinct differences when they studied siblings, identical twins or just matched offspring.  Brain scans and autopsies both show the brains of the better-loved are better built.  Their neurological architecture is more complete, mature and functions more effectively.  Well-loved infants of all mammal species studied tend to keep their neurochemistry better balanced and, thus, tend not to suffer from the disorders of neurochemical imbalances nearly as much as the less well-loved.

Love with Smarts and Success

The well-loved, human child grows up making better grades, attaining higher social status, actualizing talents more, and in just about every category succeeding more than the less well-loved child.  There certainly are exceptions as in the less well-loved child who becomes better loved as an adult.  The well-loved also have higher than average successes.  There also is evidence to suggest that the high IQ children who were not so well-loved are more likely to experience more erratic success patterns.  Especially do the well-loved do well in love relationships more than the less well-loved.  Smarter individuals who focus on learning the skills of love are thought to do much better at love relationships than smarter individuals who do not focus on learning the skills of loving well.

What is Well-Loved?

Being well-loved means receiving ample, skillful demonstrations of the eight groups of behavior, social scientists have discovered, convey love.  It also means that when one is the recipient of these love-conveying behaviors, healthful brain chemistry reactions are triggered which in turn brings about physically and psychologically healthful results.

Briefly stated, these groups of loving behaviors can be titled: Tactile Love, Expressional Love, Verbal Love, Gifting Love, Affirmation Love, Self-Disclosure Love, Toleration Love, and Receptional Love.  (Find more details about these loving behaviors in “Behaviors That Give Love – The Basic Core Four”, “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”, “Parenting Series: How To Love Your Child Better”.  Also important are the mega-psycho-emotional categories of love actions which can be called Connection Love, Nurturing Love, Protective Love and Metaphysical Love. To learn more about all these I suggest you study the definitions, delineations and descriptions of love and love behavior entries at this site; you might start with “A Functional Definition of Love”.

To learn more about helping your child be smarter and come to have a more successful, adult life you might read the following books: How Children Succeed by Dr. Paul Tough; to learn a lot more about helping young children have healthy brains and, therefore, better lives you might read Why Love Matters by Dr. Sue Gerhardt; to get a fuller understanding of the eight major ways of directly and effectively showing love you might read Recovering Love (in Part Two) by me, yours truly.

The Smart Parent Challenge

Let me suggest you contemplate this. Smart loving parents study smart loving parenting.  They look up research, they read, they take courses and classes, go to workshops and they learn every way they can.  A lot is known and more is being discovered all the time, but too many parents don’t avail themselves of the knowledge. Those who do – do better and so do their children.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Are you helping your brain health by being a good receiver of the love that is demonstrated to you, and are you being a good giver of love helping those you love have better brain health?

Firm Love and Your Child's Well-being

Synopsis: Parent’s laments about out of control child behavior, Then statements of surprise and relief after employing Firm Love techniques; The mix of love and firmness; What does firm love look like; and A few hints for carrying out firm love parenting; and more.

“My children are out of control.”  “My kids are turning into monsters.”  “All I get is angry back-talk.”  “What am I doing wrong?”  “Why do I have to ask them a million times to do what they’re supposed to do?” “I get so mad when they won’t do what I expect them to do – I’m the one out-of-control.”  “No matter how much I yell at them they still won’t do what I say.”  Time and time again in parent guidance counseling I hear laments like these.  In most cases the problem is the same at the core and so is the solution.

To understand what the problem is and what the cure is, compare the above statements to the following one. “I’m so amazed.  I finally started doing what you suggested I experiment with and I’m actually getting both my boys to do what I want them to do.  They’re even politely saying Yes ma’am and No ma’am when I tell them what to do. And it took only three, truly terrible days before the new system started working.  I thought it would take a lot longer.”

“The other amazing thing is we also are much happier and getting along much better.  Like you said they did escalated all their bad behaviors at first, and it was tough but I stuck with it, and I can’t believe how well all that firm love stuff worked.  I sure wish I’d started doing these things years ago when the trouble started.  Another thing is one of my boy’s teachers came to me and volunteered that they were acting better in school too, and we haven’t even focused on that yet; I guess we won’t have to now.”

Love-Hunger and Insecurity

We have a ton of research that shows children and also adolescents do best with a combination of parent actions that helped them feel two main things – feeling loved and feeling safe.  When deep in their subconscious children go love-hungry, and when children begin to develop vague senses of insecurity they frequently begin to act in ways that parents find difficult to handle.

Becoming oppositional, disobedient, defiant, passive aggressive, angry, deceitful, unmindful of rules, argumentative and even unmotivated and forgetful, along with just general displays of unhappiness frequently means a child doesn’t feel sufficiently secure, or loved, or both.  Parent actions which show a combination of consistent love and firmness, well mixed together, often are required to produce happy, cooperative children and a harmonious home life.

What is so baffling to many parents is the acting out behavior looks like the child just wants to be left alone to do what they want to do.  Then mistakenly those parents might not carry through with the behavior they want from the child, thinking this will pacify the child, however, the opposite (escalating bad behavior) most often occurs because the child subconsciously wants loving parental control which they are unable to give themselves.  Escalating bad behavior usually means the underlying need is not being met; that explains how loving firmness leads to a child’s sense of security.

Insecurity and Firmness

If a child’s subconscious could talk with adult words it might say something like this. “Parent, I know I can not handle the big, scary world by myself, so I need to see you as consistently strong and standing protectively between me and the big, scary world.  I also know I need your help to handle the natural impulses, drives, and urges that sometimes cause me to act up and act out these feelings.
“If I act up and I see you can’t handle little, weak, vulnerable me and the small amount of power I have, I will see you as weak just like me.  That will agitate, irritate, annoy and then frighten me, which in turn will cause me to feel increasingly and fundamentally insecure.

Then I will agitate, irritate, annoy and test you all the more, hoping you will show me you are strong enough to handle mostly powerless, little me.  I also will want to see you strongly stand between me and the big, scary world.  I guess if I don’t see those things happen often enough, I will grow up a very insecure and dysfunctional adult.  So, please dear parent, show me you are strong enough to protect me from the big, scary world, as well as powerful enough to guide me into controlling the urges which sometimes flood me.”

It mostly is a parent’s calmly exhibited firmness, mixed with love expressions that best reassures a child and helps them to feel secure.  Doing something like gently putting your arm around a disobedient child and firmly saying, “I love you, kid, and now go stand in the corner for 18 minutes, and get your penalty finished so we can do something more pleasant later” is an example of firm love.  Other forms of firmness, of being tough and strong can help a child feel secure in the family, but without the expression of love mixed with a show of strength the results tend to be much less desirable.

Insecurity and Love

As a child feels sufficiently secure and when they are not having to cope with the threat of living without sufficient safety, they open to the benefits of being loved.  When a sufficiently secure child receives parenting acts which convey love, they tend to physically and psychologically grow and mature better and faster.

Most of the children who receive both sufficient security and demonstrations of love do remarkably well in the world as adults.  This often is true even if they have some other difficulty.  To show how important this security and love is, in extreme cases an infant who is markedly unloved is susceptible to dying of Marasmus or some other failure-to-thrive illness, or else it’s because their immune system became extra susceptible to disease.

The extremely, erratically loved child is prone to becoming a Psychosocial Dwarf or to developing some other physical growth and developmental dysfunction.  The insufficiently loved child is much more likely to develop one or another form of mental or emotional illness, as well as being more susceptible to various physical illnesses.

To have a solid sense that one consistently is loved, provides a certain sense of security in itself.  To consistently receive the eight major groups of behavior which convey love helps a child’s psycho-physical self be healthfully nourished.  That love nourishment is necessary for a child’s growth and the development of healthy brain functioning and neurochemical balancing.

Without good brain functioning and neurochemical balancing mental, emotional and behavioral problems become much more likely.  Insecurity-based anxiety and proneness to depression, along with the inability to form healthy relationships, all are thought frequently to be related to inadequate love or malformed love having occurred in a child’s life.

The Mix of Love and Firmness

Just being loved without firm guidance doesn’t seem to produce happy, healthy kids because love alone doesn’t produce a sufficient sense of security.  Just being firm without love may produce tough but unloving offspring.  When love and security both are present in a child’s life, developmental maximum well-being is much more likely.  When a sense of security is incorporated it tends to result in a more self-confident, self-secure child. When there is sufficient love expressed with firmness it tends to produce a sufficiently, healthfully, self loving child who has a sense of confidence and self-security.

This in turn tends to produce assertiveness and higher achievement, and societal contribution in adulthood.  Love and firmness mixed well together also tend to produce compassionate, caring offspring who are good at cooperation and interrelating.  Of course, there can be all sorts of intervening, negative factors and events in a child’s life which can derail the best parenting efforts.  However, all else being equal the parent who masters being both loving and firm is likely to get happy, healthy children that they enjoy being around, along with a more consistently harmonious home life.

What Does Firm Love Look Like?

Here is an example: The parent smiled and touched the child’s hands in a loving way saying, “You broke the rule and you know what the penalty is, so start and continue your penalty for 23 minutes.  The child screamed, “It’s not fair, my brother made me do it, it’s his fault, I hate you.”
The parent still rather quietly, but with a lowered firmness in the parent’s voice said, “ I know you are unhappy and after you’ve finished your penalty I’ll listen to you, but now your penalty time is 33 minutes.  The child cried, hollered, thrashed about and moaned loudly.  The parent said, “Now it’s 43 minutes, and I love you, and you can cry but you have to do it quietly.  I really hope you don’t get to 53 minutes.  I really will listen to your complaints after you’ve finished with the penalty, and after that we might be able to do something nicer later”.

The child said a little resentfully, “Okay” and with a sadly lowered head dutifully commenced with the penalty action.  After the specified time the parent said, “I’ll listen to you now if you want tell me different things and you can say anything you want.  The child calmly said, “I did break the rule and I apologize.  I blamed my brother but it’s me who let him talk me into it, so I did deserve the penalty.  I’ll do better next time”.

The parent smiled warmly, said “I love you and I’m proud of you for saying that”. The child hugged the parent and then went to play.  This may sound like a rosy scenario but I’ve heard reports just like this from happy parents who employed firm love with a misbehaving child.  And the child’s resistance to this system usually lessens quickly if the system is used consistently.

A Few Hints for Carrying out Firm Love Parenting

Firmness is better conveyed by a lowered voice than a raised voice.  It is quite useful not to confuse a child by using the word ‘asked’ as in “Aren’t you going to do what I asked you to do?”.  It is useful for children to understand the difference between a request to which one can say no, and a command.  Frequently children truly are not being asked to do something but instead they are being ordered or commanded to do something.  If you ask someone to do something it’s a request not an order, and to a true request the answer “no” must be allowable.  Otherwise, it’s not a true request it’s an order disguised as a request.  For many children who take words quite literally this just helps them see parents as phony.

Words of love can be stated in the same, firm tone of voice which may help ‘love words’ be seen as strong and solid.  Indeed, these love words may not be immediately perceived well.  They, however, do tend to soak in later.

There is much more to be learned about firm love and how to accomplish it.  Hopefully this is enough to get you started thinking about your own mix of firmness with love in parenting.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Is there someone in your past who did firm love well that you might model some of your firm love parenting actions on?

Best Practices, Parent-Love Check List

Mini-Love-Lesson  # 276

Synopsis: Here is a simple, short, yet comprehensive source for parents to use in viewing their ways of giving their children a full spectrum of beneficial love actions; it covers the 12 major ways research suggests and gives a “best practices” approach to love-filled, healthy parenting.

The Great and Grand 12

Extensive, replicated and deep probing research has revealed that love gets done in 12 different, interwoven sets of behavior.  The various patterns of successful parent love, mother love, father love and family love involve these 12 major ways of going about the doing of healthful, real love.  Each of these can be seen to have different aspects that integrate with each of the others but also have their own flavor and varying, beneficial aspects.

A Bit of Framework Information

Love is very real physically.  In the brain sciences, it has been discovered that the behaviors that are known as loving, bring about vital neurochemical, neuro-network and probably neural-electrical benefits that are essential for surviving and thriving.  This is true not only in humans but in mammals and other species.  Without receiving loving behaviors, mammalian infants and others tend to die of failure to thrive illnesses, although otherwise being well taken care of.  Those that do survive tend to be dysfunctional and maladaptive.  Those offspring that receive higher proportions of loving behaviors are much more likely to survive and thrive.  That is what the research evidence points to.

Healthy, Real, Parental Love is defined as a powerful, vital, natural process of highly valuing, desiring for, often acting for and taking pleasure in the well-being of one’s child or children.

This love motivates parenting behaviors that fulfill the five major functions of love which, in parenting involve:

1. Acting to form a deep and lasting emotional CONNECTION with your child.

2. Acting to SAFEGUARD your child.

3. Acting to NURTURE your child’s development and healthful growth (physical, psychological, social etc.)

4. Acting to HEAL and reparatively assist your child when needed.

5. Acting to profoundly and obviously ENJOY your child and your child’s unique ways of being themselves

A framing concept involved here is important to note.  It is that love feelings tend to come naturally but love relating takes learning and doing.  Only by the doing love conveying behaviors can love be sufficient and successful for fulfilling love’s major functions.  While love feelings may motivate certain, natural, love actions, feelings fall far short of what purposefully learned, practiced and skillfully improved behaviors can accomplish.


Here are the 12 Major Categories of doing healthful love toward your child or children.  You can estimate how well you are both doing and modeling (teaching) healthy love for your child or children by studying each category and evaluating your own actions.

Class I  Core Love Behaviors

1. Tactile or Touch Love  (includes affectionate, comforting, playful, tender, reassuring touching)

2. Expressional Love  (facial smiling, grinning, laughing; gestural open arms, thumbs-up, etc.; hand and arm motions; leaning forward, moving physically close; loving tones of voice, humming, singing, etc.)

3. Verbal love (frequently and in varied ways clearly stated messages of love)

4. Gift love  (giving object presents, experiences, doing favors and acts of service demonstrating love)

Class II  Crucial Love Behaviors

5. Affirmational Love  (first appreciating then stating and acting to express high intrinsic worth and valuing of your child’s being)

6. Self-disclosure Love  (letting your child see and know the human fallible and successful aspects of yourself via sharing your personal thoughts, feelings and actions)

7.  Tolerational Love  (being patient, understanding, accepting and forgiving of the less pleasant aspects of your child)

8. Receptional Love  (focusing on and reacting positively to your child’s attempts to show and give you love as an act of giving love)

Class III  Cardinal Love Behaviors

9.  Protectional Love  (acting to safeguard your child in small, medium and large ways without being oppressive, suffocating or overly blocking of your child’s efforts to learn to handle life’s difficulties)

10.  Nurturing Love  (kindness and care expressive ways that help a child healthfully grow, develop, improve, achieve and fulfill their positive potentials)

11.  Reparative Love  (actions that help heal wounds, cure illnesses, restore well-being, counter setbacks, mitigate sick feelings and get past blocks to wellness or, at least, make them less hurtful and harmful)

12.  Metaphysical Love  (doing spiritual, meditative, prayerful, ceremonial, ritual, contemplative or potentially transpersonal actions on behalf of your child’s well-being, health and advancement, sometimes, doing those with them)

There are other lists of love behaviors that are well worth studying and applying to the ways of doing best practices parenting.  Paul’s 16 points concerning love, found in First Corinthians 13 of the New Testament, and the 4 great immeasurable mindsets (or heart sets) of love taught in both Hinduism and Buddhism are excellent sources to study further.  The book Teachings on Love by the Zen monk, Tich Nhat Hanh, is a good place to begin for the 4 mindsets.  Consulting the works of Dr. Sue Gerhard, cofounder of the Oxford Parent Infant Project and author of Why Love Matters also is an excellent source for parents.  Also quite useful are the many Mini-Love-Lessons found under the Parenting heading of the Subject Index at this site.

Remember To feel love is natural, To do love is learned.  Therefore, to do parent love with a best practices approach, it is necessary to study, experiment and practice.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question:  Science has revealed a lot about both successful parenting and healthful love, so are you looking into and making use of science’s recent, fascinating discoveries?

Parenting Series

Here is a simple seven step system for motivating your young ones (and sometimes for motivating the ‘child self’ in an adult) toward the actions desired and seen as good.  It is a love empowered system which tends to help love relationships grow as guidance is given, boundaries are set and discipline rendered.  It is a system that has been found to work with a vast array of very different types of youth and others, and could be the system most likely to work for you because it works for so many others.

Virginity Surpassed and Parental Love

Synopsis: A daughter’s startling declaration and loving request; Parent readiness; Big questions; A different example; Handling it all with the power of love.

“Mother, father, I would like you to just sit and really work at hearing me with love because I have what I think is a good thing to share with you.

Last night I did something really special.  I surpassed my virginity.  That’s what my group calls it instead of seeing it as something lost.”

This shy and gently stated declaration came from a beautiful, super smart, nearly perfect, not quite 17-year-old daughter, as her mother reported it.  She continued, “At first neither my husband nor I understood so my daughter repeated herself,  ‘Surpassed my virginity, not lost my virginity’.  Suddenly I was flooded with cascading, conflicting and confusing emotions washing over me – chaos, disbelief, shock, fear, sadness, empathy, guilt, worry, and a strange sense of pride that she was able to tell us this startling fact.

"Then I heard my husband stammering, ‘What the hell!  You mean you’ve already had…, already …, you mean …, you’re telling me, my little girl’s not a virgin anymore?  Is that what you mean?’  Our daughter calmly and kindly replied, ‘Yes, Daddy, and we did it the safe way with a condom and spermicide, and we did it with lots of love so I want you to be happy for me’."

This mother admitted her next words were a tearful, “But you’re only 16."  Her daughter’s well researched response was, “Mom, do you know around the world 16 is the average age where most girls ‘surpass their virginity’ so I’m just being normal.  Please don’t cry unless those are tears of happiness for me.  It was a really good experience and besides I think I’m the last girl in my group to do this.”

She said her husband, somewhat angrily, replied, “That doesn’t make it right, safe, healthy, or good.  Their daughter’s further response was, “Daddy did you know that in ancient Egypt, whose civilization lasted longer than anybody else’s and whose family life stability was legendary, girls commonly surpassed their virginity between the ages of 12 and 14 and were married by 15.  Not only that but sometimes marriage was to one of their brothers”.

“That’s not what we are talking about,” was this frustrated father’s reply.  This mom reported she then said, “Well, Sweetheart, you have shocked and amazed us, and you are going to have to give your father and I some time to process this because we certainly weren’t ready for it, like we probably should have been.  I do want to thank you for telling us and not keeping it secret like we had to do when we were growing up.  Let’s take a break while you’re father and I talk and then we’ll all talk some more”.

Their daughter replied in a very adult and kind tone, “I know this is hard for you given the way you were brought up so, yes, let’s take a break but first can we all hug?”  She said they did hug and they said they loved each other; then she and her husband shared their confusion and many different feelings.  All this is what the mother of a rather precocious adolescent reported to me in a quickly scheduled parent/guidance counseling session before asking, “Now what do we do?”.

Well, dear parents, are you ready for the day you find out an offspring of yours has “surpassed their virginity”?  Do you think you will be able to handle it with wisdom and love?  Maybe you will try to stay in denial and act like it hasn’t happened.  If that is so it may lead your youngster to feel and think that they shouldn’t or can’t share this kind of big, important fact with you.  If that’s the case they perhaps will try to handle the health, relational and psychological issues without your input, support and guidance.  Please consider that.

Perhaps you feel sure your teenagers will stay virginal until after marriage, and they may.  However, the majority of adolescents in a majority of cultures around the world do not.  As you probably know all around our planet both biology and modern world, cultural influences seem to be pressing youth toward becoming sexually interactive in middle or younger adolescence.  I think it is wise for parents not to be in denial and to prepare ahead of time for dealing with this bio-social ‘pressure’.

Let’s look at this: Concerning sex, especially virginity, do you have different hopes and standards for the males and females you are raising?  I have counseled no small number of parents, mostly fathers but some mothers also, who are secretly or openly proud of their sons but upset with their daughters when they first start having sex.  In this day and age ‘double standards’ more and more lead to destructive family conflict.  This especially seems to be a hard problem for families moving into the modern, westernized world from other cultures.  It also frequently is a devastating difficulty for religious conservative parents of many faiths who find their offspring gravitating toward more contemporary, secularly influenced lifestyles.

The big question for parents, from this family therapist’s point of view, is this.  Are you going to deal with the ‘surpassing virginity’ issue with sufficient healthy, real love?  No matter what your belief system is regarding ethics, morals, mores, propriety, etc., I suggest a powerful love-centered approach will work best.  From my experience with so many parents discovering that their offspring have become sexually interactive, ‘well expressed love’ is the primary thing that makes the outcome constructive.  Without love your mind seems closed and destructive dissonance grows.  Anger, condemnation, guilt tripping, manipulation, disgust, rejection, control efforts, abandonment, expulsion, lack of care, being overly nonchalant and indulgent, punishment, reasoning without compassion, hyper-religiosity etc.  usually lead to far less than desirable results.

Let me suggest that the parents who handle this issue best are also the ones who, with love and some study, prepare for it ahead of time.  Some years ago I worked with a couple who was attempting to deal with this issue responsibly and sanely.  They talked with each other saying, “It is likely our children will become sexually active in their teenage years, because we did, and that’s the way the world seems to work these days.  So, how do we want to prepare for that?”

After some research they decided to follow a parenting approach popular in certain circles in northern Europe, parts of South America and very recently urban China.   They gave their children a far better than average sex education involving not only the biology but also the psychology of sexuality.  There were those in their extended family who said they were just setting up their children for promiscuity and tragedy, but they rejected that after looking at the good results data from various other countries.

When their youngsters were in their early adolescence they openly discussed how and when they might choose to enter into sexual relations.  Each of their children became able to talk quite frankly about all this with their parents.  Both their boys and girls chose ages later than their parents had worried they would.  Healthy self-love and others were a major focus in their discussions.  When older each of their offspring carried out their plans similar to those they had designed with reasoned modifications when needed.  A loving acceptance and even a family celebratory atmosphere prevailed as the plans came to fruition.

Recently I learned that their children, who are now entering adulthood, plan to do much the same thing when they have children because the results have been far better than the bad and chaotic experiences of many others.  No one got pregnant, no one got any sexually transmitted diseases and no one experienced any great emotional upheaval.  All of them agree that because love was made so much more important than sex the sexual issues got dealt with quite fully and constructively.

It is important to know that following this pattern might not lead to such good results for you. 
Because of all sorts of individual differences and possible other intervening variables disasters might yet occur.  There are no guarantees but the above example is, at least, a different example than many parents have been exposed to.  I suggest you study many examples and possible ways to go about facing this issue.  Then as parents you might want to make your plans regarding ‘virginity surpassed’, preferably with a ‘ big, powerful, love focus’ as a big part of them.

For a start on these deliberations let me remind you what that fellow we call Paul said about love over 2000 years ago: Love is patient, kind, not jealous, overbearing, arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way, is not mean-spirited or resentful, and love bears all things, for real love never ends.

As always Grow and Go with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love success question How similar or different from your parents do you want to be concerning your dealing lovingly with your children’s sexuality?

Teen "in Love", Parents in ? ? ?

Synopsis: Love and your dating teenager; parent options; puppy love or disaster in the making; what are your odds; adolescent brain chemistry; romantic reality; using the loving way; what if the relationship lasts; more.

Love and Your Dating Teenager

“I’m in love and I know it’s the real thing!”

What will you do when your teenager proclaims something like this with total sincerity and you’re quite sure they’re completely mistaken and totally misguided.  Worse, what will you do if they hide it from you and you discover they believe they’re in ‘true love’?  What will you do if you hear some kid you really regard as a surefire loser proclaim love for your offspring and it looks like your offspring is about to fully reciprocate?

These sort of things happen to many parents when they are in no way ready for them.  It can happen whether or not your teenager is dating but more commonly it occurs after they’ve been seeing someone or secretly dating for a while.  It even can happen after a first date with the youngest teens, but more commonly it happens later with older teens who are surprisingly young, na├»ve, extremely immature or pseudo-mature.  In other words it can happen to your teenager and, therefore, to you and gravely effect your family.

Parent Options

Huge numbers of parents handle their teenagers "falling in love" experiences extremely poorly and sometimes severe tragedy results.  Some try the authoritarian route of banning teens from seeing each other, grounding their own offspring, taking phones and transportation away, and even locking them in their rooms.

Other parents are wimpy and weak not knowing what to do, so they hope and pray nothing will go seriously wrong but they do little else but observe.  Some, along with other family members, tease, embarrass and make fun of their teens mercilessly.  Still other parents go along, denying their own best judgments, and gambling on the belief that ‘whatever will be, will be’ and it’s all out of their hands anyway.  There are those who try a very logical, lecturing depending on reason’s ability to change adolescent, romantic and sexual feelings.  Then there are the parents that get happy believing the magical thing called love has come down from heaven to enrapture their offspring for all eternity, and the only thing to do is celebrate and go along.  However, subconsciously they also could be suffering from a serious case of denial.

Quite a few parents gamble on a combination of luck and subtle, sabotaging manipulation.  They overtly cooperate and covertly attempt to undermine, while looking for something or somebody better to introduce their teenager to.  Depending on the teenager and the way parents carry it off each of these approaches they may work at least a little, may backfire, or may be totally inconsequential.

Puppy Love or Disaster in the Making

Counseling with the families of murdered and suicided youth is among the hardest work I do.  Teenage ‘jealousy murders’ and ‘breakup suicides’ along with substance addictions start-ups and relapses, plus sexual and criminal acting-out, and sudden serious depression are the worst of what, all too commonly, is called “adolescent ‘love’ experiences gone wrong”.  And then there are the unwanted pregnancies, school dropouts, runaways and countless lesser tragedies that sometimes occur.

It is heart wrenching to hear parents who have lost a child say things like, “We thought it was just puppy love” or “We didn’t take it seriously” or “We teased and joked about it but that’s all we did, and now it’s too late”.  Therefore, dear parents, please approach your maybe ‘in love’ teen with as much careful, parent love and knowledge as you can!  Here are things to help you with the knowledge part.

What Are Your Odds?

The odds are on your side.  The vast majority of adolescent "fall in love" and ‘love affair’ experiences are not serious and do not end in tragedy.  Once in a great while one of them actually turns out to be healthy, real love and it lasts, although that is probably the rarest of all the more common outcomes.  Your odds improve if you use early teen infatuations to help your offspring learn about the differences between teenage pseudo-love and more mature, lasting, real love.  Don’t be surprised if it looks like your efforts are "falling on deaf ears" or that your teen thinks you don’t understand; you will have planted the seeds for them to think about on their own.  It’s also a good time to put in some more emotion’s focused sex education.

Adolescent Brain Chemistry

The brain chemistry changes that sometimes occur in adolescents who are having a "fall in love" experience can be deadly.  These bio-chemical changes often are temporary but drastic when a breakup occurs.  These changes can happen to the most balanced and mentally healthy adolescents but are more common in youth who also are having other kinds of problems.  A highly functioning, good loving family, along with family counseling offers the best insurance that everyone will get through a teenager’s brain chemistry "love" storm okay, and may even come out the better for it.  The thing to know is no one is exempt from the possibility of such a brain chemistry storm, and the extreme emotions and agonizing dissonance it can sometimes cause.  Certain medications also may be useful.

Romantic Reality

To protect your children you can teach them the seldom spoken truth that most early, teenage, romantic experiences do not involve real love, don’t last and, at best, are ‘training relationships’ helping youth get ready for the more and better relationships that come later in adulthood.  Again your teenager may scoff at this information and may assume "you just don’t know how they feel"; relate to them compassionately and let them know you do understand, and maybe use some self-disclosure love that reveals times you may have had similar feelings.

We actually used to do a better job at this.  Once upon a time, youth were taught to expect to have short-term "crushes", infatuations, temporary flames, perhaps even a paramour and probably several amorous attachments before the real thing came along.  Today all too many parents support the common, and usually false mythology, that your first love is your real love, and is a love that will last you all your life and into eternity.  This frequently is a set up for heartbreak and serious disappointment.  Remember, Romeo and Juliet did not get even a day of living happily-ever-after.

False Love Training and Protection

One of the best things parents can do with both children and teenagers is to educate them about false love.  It’s sort of like sex education.  It’s best started early but a late start is better than no start.  Talk to your kids in short bursts, telling them how they will likely get enamored, bewitched, bothered and hopefully realize they are bewildered by lust and false love experiences, which will be very easy to confuse with real love.

Such experiences can feel wonderful or very troubling but they are very much, not likely to last.  Help them to know that high-intensity feelings don’t automatically mean long-lasting feeling.  Also introduce the ‘radical idea’ that early romance is "beginner training" for the more and better relationships of their future .  To know about false love go to the Subject Index at this site and see the False Love and Myths category.

What to Avoid

Avoid dictatorial oppression.  In the long-running, Broadway play “The Fantasticks” two fathers secretly decide they want their offspring to marry each other.  So they hit on a very clever strategy.  They absolutely forbid their offspring to have anything to do with each other.  By the end of the play the kids, of course, are marrying each another.  There is a great truth here.  Forbidding can so often get you the opposite result from what you want.   No matter how much you forbid, try to block, or punish kids for connecting in the modern world they usually can find a way to connect.

Avoid lecturing and presenting lots of logical reasons and preaching.  All that usually just gets you is tuned-out and ignored.  Know that things that effect the emotions have to be dealt with emotionally, and pure intellect so often just does not reach the emotional self.  It’s empathy, compassion, concern, sincerely expressed questions and good listening that can make a positive difference.

Avoid embarrassing, making fun of and teasing.  This just helps your offspring want to hide their truths from you.

Avoid a lot of sneaky lies and manipulations to sabotage your teenager’s romantic involvements because these tactics are not likely to convey love and because they can so backfire.  Truth with love is a much better option.

Avoid doing nothing.  Carefully having a love-based influence is likely to help the most.

Using the Loving Way

I remember a father who absolutely hated the boy he found his teenage daughter in bed with.  At first his rage, fury and denouncements resulted in his daughter running off with the boy.  After some parent guidance counseling this parent decided to use his love and his brains.  He contacted them, and with sincere good will invited the boy and his daughter to dinner, offered to fix the boy’s car and then to pay for the boy’s counseling and even included him with their family counseling.  Eight weeks later his daughter was saying, “I can do better than him, and we are going to just be friends”.  It doesn’t always work out quite that quickly or that well, but it can.  A lot of loving listening and putting your ideas mostly into a sort of curious, concerned questioning can help your teenager figure out what you want them to figure out.

When relationships break up be there for your teenager in a supportive, loving and sometimes pleasantly distracting way.  With all love relationship breakups (false or real) there can be a depression and that can bring an increased suicide potential, so be watchful and careful.

What If the Relationship Lasts?

If your teenager and the one they choose stay in an ongoing relationship with each other – embrace it.  The worst thing in family life is an ongoing war making everything worse and worse.  The next worst thing is an ongoing estrangement, full of long-lasting, ongoing heartache.

When we love it is our job to see if we can love, or at least like, or barring that at least tolerate those who we love choose to love.  If you or if anyone in your family cannot do this I suggest individual counseling, parents with teen or adult offspring counseling or family counseling.  It definitely can and often does work wonders.

As one mother put it, “Our son married a woman so opposite to anyone I could accept.  She was of a different race, religion, class, philosophy of life, politics and lifestyle.  For five years I fought her every way I could think of.  Then they wouldn’t have anything to do with me, and for five more years my son was lost to me.  He came back, talked me into family counseling, and now today, so many years later, I love her like the daughter she became to me.  What a fool I was to lose all those years.  I’m grateful though because I have learned that love can conquer even my prejudice”.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Are you good at, or learning to get good at, talking to your kids about love and also about false love?

Parenting Series: Paul's Points On Love For Parents

In what is called Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians there is the most wonderful and often quoted description of love.  Paul apparently wrote his 16 point description for all types of love.  Here is an attempt to apply what he wrote to the job of parenting.

1.  Parent Love Is Patient with Children
Patience is needed for children’s growth, development, and learning.  Impatient desire for children to behave at adult speed tends to backfire.

2.  Parent Love Is Kind toward Children
Many research efforts have concluded that the best and most productive parenting is saturated with loving kindness mixed with firmness.  Without loving kindness parent actions often come across as anti-loving, cruel, or non-loving indifference.

3.  Parent Love Is Not Jealous of Children
Parents who are jealous of their children’s successes, attributes, opportunities, fortunes, etc. are usually in need of greater self-love, and especially self love’s sense of self security.  Jealousy from a parent generally undermines their child’s sense of being loved by that parent.

4.  Parent Love Is Not Pretentious toward or about Children
Parents who are self disclosing of their own shortcomings, and do not pretentiously attempt to seem perfect, always right, and never wrong, etc., nor attempt to seem intrinsically superior, prejudiced, or patronizing do best.  Parents who overly identify with their children’s success, or overly take credit for children’s victories, etc. can rob their children of self-confidence and self-esteem development.

5.  Parent Love Is Not Arrogant toward Children
Parents who arrogantly put down, demean, ‘lord it over’, criticize, dominate dogmatically, don’t listen well, preach, downplay, act to deflate, etc. undermine a child’s growth of healthy self-love development.

6.  Parent Love Is Not Rude toward Children
Parents who encourage child level participation in family interaction, show children consideration and politeness get better results.  Parents who rudely ignore, degrade, or are dismissive of children tend to get the same back from children.  Kindness and consideration help children be and grow harmoniously with their families and with themselves.

7.  Parent Love Does Not Always Insist on Its Own Way with Children
Parents who allow mistakes help learning occur.  Parents who dictatorially rule usually produce either rebels or defeatists.

8.  Parent Love Is Slow to Take Offense Concerning Children
Having a firm and non-angry discipline approach, and being non-offended by children’s acts and words helps children learn to improve their behavior.  Excessive ‘should-ing’ on children, guilt tripping at children, shaming, acting with manipulative hurts, and doing anger trips aimed at children tend to just upset them emotionally.  That in turn prevents reasoned learning.

9.  Parent Love Keeps No Score of Children’s Wrong doing
Repeatedly referring to what children have done wrong in the past, condemning them with their previous failures, embarrassing them with former mistakes, and not giving children fresh new chances tend to help the negative past repeat itself, as it also diminishes motivation to improve.

10.  Parent Love Is Not Happy over the Mishaps of Children
Laughing at a child’s efforts, ideas, mistakes, mishaps, etc., gleefully pointing out a child’s ignorance, making demeaning fun over childish behavior, and the like tend to help children hide, not share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings, and not seek guidance from parents.  Emotional distancing from family and especially parents is common when these things happen.

11.  Parent Love Rejoices in the Truth of Children and Delights in Their Honesty
Parents who support a child’s truthfulness even when it’s troublesome, embarrassing, uncomfortable, or painful tend to get more open and honest children.  Parents who look for the underlying truths in children’s words and doings discover much to rejoice about.

12.  Parent Love Can Face All Things Having to Do with Their Children
The core of a child’s being is supported as intrinsically good and potentially dominant over all that is negative in a child’s behavior – no matter what.  The ‘doings’ of a child may be negative but these negatives are not confused with the core being of the child, and it is the core being that is loved.  Likewise no sickness or disability is viewed as primary or more important than the loved core or the loved essence of the child.  This naturally good core may be buried under trauma, poor programming, and various kinds of illness (both physical and psychological), but no matter what the problem it can be faced with healthy real parent love.

13.  Parent Love Has No Limit Of Faith in One’s Children
The loving parent makes a gamble of faith in a child’s healthful potentials becoming preeminent in their child’s life.  Thus, acceptance, support, tolerance, and forgiveness are repeatedly put forward; unless they are found to be enabling of destructiveness.  They are never permanently unavailable, and they continue even if it is only in secret faith, along with hope.

14.  Parent Love Has No Limit of Hope for the Well being of a Child
Parents show hope repeatedly and, thus, express confidence in a child’s ability to grow, surmount difficulty, and live happily healthfully.  Hope is repeatedly shown by encouragement and challenge, along with active experimenting and exploring the ways and wants of a child.  Hope also is repeatedly modeled for the child so the child can incorporate hopefulness no matter the difficulty being confronted.

15.  Parent Love Endures All Things That Come with or from a Child
Problems, difficulties, defeats, sickness, mistakes, failures, disabilities, deficiencies, losses, and all manner of maladies are suffered with children.  If division occurs reunification and reconciliation without condemnation is made available.

16.  Parent Love for Children Is Eternal
Throughout life and even after death parent love continues.

May you and your child, or children grow with love!

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Parenting Series

Parenting Series: Love Motivating Your Child (& Every One) Toward Good Behavior

Here is a simple seven step system for motivating your young ones (and sometimes for motivating the ‘child self’ in an adult) toward the actions desired and seen as good.

It is a love empowered system which tends to help love relationships grow as guidance is given, boundaries are set and discipline rendered.  It is a system that has been found to work with a vast array of very different types of youth and others, and could be the system most likely to work for you because it works for so many others.

It is best used for fairly major things you really want a child of yours to do but it can be used for even small improvements in a child’s behavior.  For many it is thought to work better than lots of other systems because it is seen as relying on the input and intermix of strong, healthy real love and on behaviors known to express love well.  In brief outline form the system works like this.

When you want a child’s behavior to improve or change do the following seven steps:
1.  Spend 30 seconds meditating on being love-centered and love-focused before bringing up what you want of your child.  If what your want has been initiated by something your child did that was disappointing, anger producing or in any way negative spend one full minute meditating on being love-centered.

2. Organize your thoughts in a behaviorally exact way concerning these three things: first what you want, second what reward you will give your child for doing what you want, and third the penalty if what you want is not done by your child.  Start by thinking about what you are really wanting from your child, and then exactly what specific observable behaviors your child will have to do which represent doing what you want.  When thinking about this do not rely on vague abstract terms like “be more respectful, thoughtful, polite, honest”, etc..  You will need to get exact behavioral examples ready to say to your child.  An example would be saying things like, “I want you, dear Amy, to say the words “thank you” in a soft tone of voice and with a smile the next time your grandmother hands you a cookie.  Will you practice doing that for me right now”.

Hearing the words “thank you” in a soft tone and seeing a smile are examples of observable behaviors.  Without this kind of exactness your child is likely not to get a clear enough picture concerning what is wanted.  When it isn’t clear you’re not likely to get it because they don’t get it.  It’s best not to tell a child what you want them to — stop doing, not do, never do again, etc. without telling them exactly what to do in place of the undesired behavior.  Without a replacement behavior old behavior is much more likely to repeat.  An example would be don’t say “stop making all that noise”.  Do say “I want you to be absolutely silent for the next 42 minutes” (odd numbers work better).  Then you must get behaviorally exact about the reward you will offer for doing the desired behavior.  Will it be hugs, kisses , smiles, praises, compliments, thank you’s, candy, toys, privileges, opportunity or what?

After that think about exactly what penalty you are going to render for not doing the desired behavior.  Will it be withdrawal of a privilege, denial of an opportunity, confiscation of a desired toy, having to deal with your displeasure, sitting in a time-out chair or what?  Unless you are able to get behaviorally exact about these three things you are not likely to consistently get improved behavior.  It is important then when you are talking to your child about these things that you are firm and loving in your demeanor.  You may want to mix in some praising or complimenting statements and a thank you for past good behavior.  When talking about the penalty you can be more matter-of-fact and when you’re talking about the reward more upbeat or joyous.

3.  Take 20 or more seconds to think out your love tactics.  This means give thought to how you want the tones of your voice to convey your message with love.  Consider how you want your face to express love and perhaps show sincerity while you talk to your child about the desired behavior.  Voice and facial expression can be more important than the actual words you use.  If they are loveless you may be self sabotaging.  Check to make sure you’re conveying love in some manner or another perhaps with loving touch involved.  Check out timing factors, possible distractions and the effect of others being present, along with detractors like tiredness, hunger, etc..  You also may  want to remind yourself how you don’t want to come across to your loved child.  It’s usually best to avoid things that would be seen as anti-loving or non-love oriented like anger, judgmentalism, guilt trips and demeaning statements.  Remember all things can be said with love (see ‘Say It With Love’ blog entry).

Finally decide whether what you want will be delivered as an order or a request.  Things work better when it is clear that parental ‘requests’ to a child can receive a refusal or a “no” reply from the child without penalty.  Orders require penalty when disobeyed.  Disobeyed orders are usually best handled with penalties which are rendered without much emotion.  Penalties delivered with lot of anger and upsetness frequently don’t teach anything except fear of the parent.  Be sure you and your child don’t confuse requests and orders.  And be sure your expressions of love will be especially strong at the beginning and end of what you are going to say to your child.  Therefore, your tactics using this system are to convey love and avoid anti-love, nonverbal or expressional messages.

4.  Start with the reward.  Let your first words to your loved child be about their reward for doing the desired behavior.  Examples: “How would you like to see me be really happy with you in the next 30 minutes”, or “Want to earn the chance to stay up later tonight?”, or “You’re about to do something that will get me to brag about you to your grandmother tonight, aren’t you?”, or “OK, here comes a chance to get a goody you’ve been wanting”.  Clear, exact rewards mixed with well shown, happy love motivate most youth better than anything.  Of course tangible rewards (toys, candy, presents, etc.) have to be something the youth wants and values, so be mindful of that ever-changing variable.

5.  Specify the desired behavior exactly and the ‘time goal’ for its completion.  Example: “Before you go to bed tonight I want to hear you praise your little brother three times”, or “Junior, I strongly desire that you get your room picked up, all your toys and clothes put back in their place, to my satisfaction by a 5:03 p.m. when I’m probably going to inspect it”.  When specifying your desired behavior it is helpful to avoid words that have probably become anti-loving, words like “need”, “should”, “must”, “have to”, “can’t”, “never”, “don’t ever”, etc. .  Clearly and lovingly restate the desired behavior at least once and then clearly, briefly and matter-of-factly, or possibly a little sadly announce the penalty if there is to be one.  Remember true requests have no penalty but orders or mandates do.

6.  Re-emphasize the reward the child will earn for doing the desired behavior.  Be sure to be lovingly positive while doing that.  Smile and be upbeat about it showing that you positively anticipate the desired behavior will be done, the earned reward will be delivered, and that you expect to share happiness with the child about that accomplishment.

7.  Notice the results you get, and consistently reward or penalize as previously indicated.  If you must penalize render the penalty either with emotional neutrality or some loving sadness, but almost never retract the penalty.  If the reward is deserved give it happily and with upbeat love.  Along with lovingly giving the indicated reward it is often good to brag and praise your child possibly in front of others.  Generally penalize only in private.  At the end of rendering a penalty it is often good to lovingly express that you too are glad the penalty is over or finished with, and you are betting that the child will do better next time.

Most parents have to practice this system for about a month before it gets easy and feels natural.  Positive results, nevertheless, often quickly occur, but not always.  Coordinated and planned parent team work to jointly remember and carry out this system often is a very positive way to achieve success.  Of course, there are a great many perfecting elaborations of this system which you can work to discover and create.  Parent guidance counseling often is very helpful here too.

Expect using this system to be kind of clumsy at first.  Furthermore, know that you may be in need of some ‘unlearning’ of whatever less successful approach you have been using.  That may take some additional consideration and work.  Also know that no approach or parenting system works for everyone or with all children.  However, this one when used well seems to result in many improvements for lots and lots of parents and children too.  Remember, the trick is to be loving throughout all seven steps.

It is to be noted that the same seven step system can be adapted for use with adults.  Furthermore, some people use this approach for self motivation.  It seems our own inner ‘child self’ can respond quite well to the same seven part approach via the use of ‘inner self talk’ between the ‘adult self’ and the ‘inner child self’.  It appears that our inner child self tends to naturally cooperate and harmonize with love demonstrations even when they come from another part of our self.  At least that seems to work well for quite a few people, if not everyone.

With children and adults it’s important to know no deceptions need be used.  This seven part system works just as well, or better, when everyone involved knows the system is being used.  There need not be any secrecy or hidden agenda aspects in the application of love motivating someone.

In the process described adults as well as children often grow to feel closer and more love connected, while many other motivational approaches (especially those based in fear, or authoritarian power, or just sheer reason) can have the opposite effect.

Review: 1. Center in love.  2. Get behaviorally exact about what’s wanted, the reward and the penalty.  3. Review your love tactics.  4. Start with reward talk.  5. Specify the desired behavior in an upbeat manner coupled with the time goal, and then briefly and blandly or sadly state the penalty.  6. Re-emphasize the reward.  7. Deliver the reward or penalty.

May you and your child, or children grow with love!

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
When you want something of or from a child, or from anyone you care about are you going about getting what you want in a more loving (i.e. love empowered) way than you used to.

Parenting Series

Parenting Series: How To Love Your Child Better

Research has discovered 12 sets of behavior that you can learn to do which can convey healthy real love to a child.

As parents focus on these 12 different but related sets of behavior their parenting tends to improve, even when it is already quite good.  Each of these sets of behavior triggers different beneficial biological, psychological, and relational positive developments to a child’s growth and well-being.  As you learn and practice each of these sets or clusters of behavior you may achieve many crucial and even momentous improvements in the raising of your child or children.  Here is a brief beginners introduction to these love behavior sets which when learned can greatly improve the health and well-being of your child or children, your parent/child relationships, and your parenting effectiveness.

Level I  Basic Love Behaviors
1.  Loving Touch
Loving touch covers hugs, pats, cuddling, holding, playful roughhousing, uplifting, caressing, stroking, back rubs, gentle back scratching, playful hair messing, hand holding, and other physical demonstrations of affectionate love.  In doing these it is important not to touch in ways that are suffocating, overly restrictive, limiting, controlling or unwanted.

2.  Loving Words
Loving words covers speaking words of love: saying “I love you”, using terms of endearment, positive acclamations, stating thanks, cheering for, praying out loud with, using positive and laudatory nicknames, using inclusion terms like “we” and “us” and words of bonding, making statements of dedication, commitment, and comradeship with a loved child, giving statements of empathy, sympathy, commiseration, using special loving phrases and language unique to the relationship with the child, and delivering these words in both spoken and written form.

3.  Expressional Love
Facial expressions like smiling toward the loved child, looking appropriately concerned, using empathetic expressions, looking happy at and with a loved child are expressionally loving.  Using loving tones of voice, tones of care, and using tones with facial expressions that show pride in the child, a friendly manner especially while listening; whistling, singing and humming for and with a child are expressionally loving.  Showing body language like open arms gestures, giving a thumbs up, doing a ‘V’ for victory hand gesture, and doing “I love you” hand signals, running to meet a loved child, behaving with body stances that show acceptance and inclusion, turning toward a child when they talk, making good eye contact with obvious positive facial expression, all show expressional love.  Expressions that are unloving in tones of voice, facial expressions, gestures, postures, etc., and especially those which might convey a demeaning attitude, indifference (flat or dull), or rejection are to be avoided.

4.  Gifting Love: (a) Object Gifting and (b) Experiential Gifting
Giving tangible, ‘object’ gifts: especially desired objects, needed items, symbolic items, and sometimes money can demonstrate love.  Giving gift ‘experiences’ like surprise birthday parties, organizing special events, taking a child to special experiences, sharing play together, arranging for a child to have both desired and needed experiences for enrichment, enjoyment, health, growth and development, and facilitating a child’s own desired experiences can demonstrate love.

Level II  Adaptive (skilled, proficient, etc.) Love Behaviors
5.  Affirmational Love
Actions of love which affirm the high value of the child such as active listening, attending to, giving positive feedback, complimenting, praising, challenging for higher performance, rewarding, honoring, ‘being there’ for, attending important occurrences and events, encouraging, critiquing constructively without criticism, showing pride in, pointing out strengths and qualities, showing interest in a child’s interests and involvements, giving time to, being patient with, and all behaviors which show a child that the child is affirmed as being important in his or her unique existence, essence and idiosyncratic dynamics can be affirmation love behaviors.

6.  Tolerational Love
Tolerating the nondestructive actions of a child, guiding without anger or personal disapproval, allowing cathartic expressions within boundaries, showing patience, accepting differences, dealing with the child via nonjudgmental approaches, disapproving of undesired action but not of the child, showing forbearance, mercy, benevolence, giving democratic choice, treating mistakes with kindness, not taking personally or with anger a child’s not yet improved words and actions or poor acts, showing leniency and sufficient clemency, conceding points in discussion, not allowing minor annoyances, aggravations, etc. to have a large negative response, and being able to be amused at minor mistakes and shortcomings all demonstrate tolerational love.

7.  Self-Disclosure Love
Discussing in appropriate amounts and at appropriate times who you really are, and how you really feel, think, act, etc., showing human imperfection, idiosyncratic ways, sharing one’s own inconsistencies, preferences, qualities, sharing life experiences, history, aspirations, etc., acting approachable, revealing how one goes about being their more intimate true self, showing vulnerability, admitting mistakes, areas of ignorance and foibles, allowing a child to see one’s victories and failures, competencies and inadequacies, and the general methods and approaches one takes to problems, projects and preferences, revealing interests, talents, and not faking or giving misleading images or impressions including those disguised by excessive modesty or egotism, while especially sharing one’s wide array of human emotions all display self disclosure love.  Also revealing what one is good at, proud of, glad about, personally pleased with and victorious in demonstrates self disclosure love.

8.  Receptional Love
Lovingly receiving a child’s expressions of love and their demonstrations of sharing themselves via showing appreciation, adequate regard, interest and approval, avoiding discounting, demeaning, and undervaluing of a child’s efforts, attempts, accomplishments, partial successes, failures and mistake, all these endeavors show receptional love.  Especially valuing immature efforts at sharing love, altruism, kindness, creativity and positiveness while avoiding indicators of personal rejection or indifference toward a child’s sharing and attachment efforts also demonstrate receptional love.

Level III  Meta (advanced, pervasive & major) Love Behaviors
9.  Nurturing Love
Any and all actions which nurture the health, happiness and well-being of a child including care giving, supportiveness, guidance, advocacy, preparation, sustenance provision, reinforcement, opportunity provision, training, education, sharing, inspiring, etc. demonstrate nurturing love.

10.  Protective Love
Actions that safeguard the health and well-being of a child including defending, sheltering, preserving, overseeing, sentinel action, scrutiny, guardianship, taking prophylactic action, setting limits, teaching safety, establishing appropriate boundaries, working to increase a child’s safety related protective proficiencies (swimming, danger awareness, etc.) are demonstrations of protective love.

11.  Healing Love
Any and all actions which work to heal and repair damage to the child, or things vitally important to the child’s health and well-being including providing physical health care, mental and emotional health care, and relational care including comforting, medicating, cleaning, healing touch experiences, recuperative assistance, diagnosis and treatment of injuries and sickness, rehabilitation efforts, disability assistance, recuperative exercise, etc. are demonstrations of healing love.

12.  Metaphysical Love
Practicing transpersonal love behaviors such as intercessory prayer, health projection meditation, ritual healing exercises, transpersonal connection focusing, worshipful awareness, lingering together with awe, awareness of oceanic joining, especially sharing universality union experiences, helping to create a profound sense of bonding together, exploring for deep shared spirituality, engaging in joint, meaningful and strongly felt rituals, partnering together for and in significant family and personal rites, sharing support in times of high consequence and gravity, striving together through times of high purpose and portends, engaging in actions which bring a sense of mystical connection, sharing intense beauty appreciation, and working to be deeply moved by intense, intimate core connecting all can demonstrate metaphysical love.

Note: Each of these sets or clusters of behavior have been found to trigger healthful brain and body chemistry responses in both children and parents.  Each of the sets of behavior can be interwoven with the others and often results in improved parent/child bonding, greater relational harmony, and an increase in psychosocial maturation and successful living.  Each, however, takes work to learn plus consistent practice and refinement as a child matures.  A great deal more can be learned about each of these clusters of love conveying behavior but hopefully this is a sufficient introduction.  Remember that love is natural but how to love and especially how to love powerfully and effectively is learned.

May you and your child, or children grow with love!

Love Success Question
After reviewing “How to Love Your Child Better” will you choose a somewhat different or uncommon love demonstrating action that you can do with, toward or about a child of yours, and do it today?

Parenting Series

Better Parenting Through Love Series

ere begins a series of blog entries aimed at helping parents empower and improve their parenting with the ways of healthy real love, plus practical methods known to get good, healthful, positive results. 

These ways also work well for adults dealing with their own ‘inner child self’ and with the child within every adult.

Styles of Parenting

The results are in.  After literally hundreds of well conducted research efforts around the world in which nearly every kind of parenting situation was studied the best parenting style has been discovered.  The parenting style that produces the most family harmony and results in children maturing into happy, healthy, productive adults is now known.  On a host of multiple measures in all kinds of families (traditional, single parent, blended family, adopted child, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, multigenerational, multicultural, racially and religiously mixed, etc.) one parenting style stands out head and shoulders higher than the rest.

This massive research effort showed just four basic parenting styles to be common, along with mixes of these four styles.  To understand what’s best it’s helpful to know just a little bit about all four common styles.  This will give you some knowledge about ‘what not to do wrong’ as well as ‘what to do right’.

The four main parenting styles can be called: 1.  Loving And Firm
2.  Loving and Permissive
3.  Firm, Hostile and Unloving
4.  Unloving and Permissive

In some research literature these styles are given other but similar names.  It is important to note that these four styles have been discovered everywhere around the world, and throughout most cultures and societies.  Please note that these descriptions are in a sense ‘pure cases’.  Therefore, they are, for the sake of clarity, representative of extremes.  If in any family the characteristics of one style described predominate but are mixed with characteristics from other classifications a mixed-case situation can be considered to be occurring.  Let’s look at the worst one first.

Here are some of its characteristics:

4.  Unloving And Permissive In this style of parenting neglectful, often erratically hostile, and very seldom kind behavior predominates.  Positive inputs like praise and compliments are very infrequent, rules are vague and unpredictably enforced, affection is minimal, and a ‘nobody really cares what a child does, thinks, or feels’ attitude is prevalent.  This is mixed with occasional anger in which verbal abuse and physical violence can occur.  Guidance is quite infrequent or nonexistent, and indifference prevails; children are erratically allowed many freedoms and are seldom restricted unless their actions interfere with the parent’s life.

The erratic hostility tends to produce either timid fearful children, or highly confused rebellion.  Substance addictions on the part of the parents and/or with the children is fairly common.  Parents swing unpredictably from being unlovingly permissive to being unlovingly hostile.  This inconsistency for the child makes for a world that is unloving, unpredictable, destabilizing, undependable, contradictory, and often psychopathological.  The lack of love is depression-causing, and the unpredictability is anxiety-causing.  Thus, this style produces the most destructive results.  Child abuse, neglect, and abandonment are possible.

3.  Firm, Hostile and Unloving Parenting here is highly authoritarian, limits are clear, well defined, and pervasive, love conveying behaviors are largely absent, the family ethos lacks warmth and responsiveness, punishment is emphasized and common, while rewards and positive inputs are de-emphasized and uncommon.  

Demeaning and derogatory messages are frequent, children are seldom if ever listened to nor are their wishes given consideration, fear-based religiosity is often present and stressed, obedience is the paramount value, rules are inflexible, parental orders prevail, free speech is suppressed, blaming, criticizing, griping and put-downs aimed at children are common, but not allowed to come from the children, painful punishment, physical restraint, abuse, and threats are likely, loving touch mixed with pain causing behavior may exist.  Such parenting tends to turn out hate-prone, fear-focused adults who repeat and often escalate this parenting style.

2.  Loving and Permissive Parenting in this style is unassertive but responsive, warm, and caring.  Children’s hurts, upsets, losses, etc. are dealt with especially well.  Over-protection is common.  Absent are sufficient challenges toward making improvements, as are standards for encouraging or ascertaining development.  Guidance toward success and coaching for accomplishment are under-emphasized.  Rewards and celebrations of achievements often are too freely given.  Rules are vague and often unenforced, forgiveness too readily obtainable, boundary-setting is indefinite, leniency pervasive, inadequate structure and organization is common, emphasis on purposeful growing of maturity is weak.  This style of parenting tends to produce fairly loving under-achievers.  Children’s potentials may go undiscovered or undeveloped, and adversity may easily overwhelm those raised in this parenting style.

1.  Loving and Firm (the best style) In this style parenting is pervasively kind, warm, responsive, and caring mixed with considerable non-hostile and even friendly firmness.  Parental leadership is highly assertive, seldom if ever aggressive or laissez faire permissive.  As children mature parenting is increasingly democratic and rewarding of advancement.  Rules are clearly and firmly established with consistent rewards for compliance and penalties for violations being given.  Rewards also are more important and often more frequent than penalties.  Penalties are usually impersonally administered without anger or other strong personal feelings being evident.  Victories and successes are joyfully and personally celebrated together.  All eight major groups of direct loving behavior are in evidence.

Positive inputs such as praise and compliments exceed negatives like corrections, complaints and criticisms.  A strong sense of calm, dependable, positive connection exists, desires of parents and children are voiced and heard frequently, maturation challenges and encouragements are also frequent. Collaborative humor occurs.  Love is shown daily and is paramount in family life.  Fear is seldom used as a major motivator.

Competition to achieve and advance is encouraged, while competition to defeat or down others receives far less emphasis.  Discovering, growing, and using one’s talents is valued, conformity is not stressed, individuality and uniqueness is stressed.  Careful adventuring, experimenting, exploring, and experiencing life broadly together and individually is encouraged, and experiences are excitedly shared.  Protectiveness is present but secondary to growth and positive gain.  Freedom of speech exists in family meetings.  Risk taking is encouraged unless unusually dangerous.  Individuality and uniqueness is supported within firm guidelines.  Kindness and firmness are experienced together daily.

The ‘Loving and Firm’ style of parenting tends to produce highly and healthfully loving, accurately self knowing and self confident, secure in themselves, democratic, mature, balanced, mentally healthy, fair-minded, higher achieving and productive, creative adults capable of appreciating and enjoying others, life, relationships, mysteries, challenges, achievements, the awesome, and their own and other’s self actualization.

These brief descriptions do not encompass all the things there are to be know about these four major parenting styles.  They do, however, give a fairly decent overview.  It is likely that your parenting is not a clear-case fitting only into any one of these classifications.  The important thing to figure out is what predominates.  How you can parent in a way that is most like the best ‘Loving and Firm’ style is the challenge.

May you and your child, or children grow with love!

Parenting Series

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Are you parenting about as well as you were parented, worse, better, with more or less parenting education than your parents had, or with more or less or about the same dedication to good parenting as they had?