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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?

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