What advice do you have for us on being engaged parents?

Q:

What advice do you have for us on being engaged parents?

A:

Your children, particularly at a younger age, will see through hypocrisy. So, you can advise them in many ways, but unless you're willing to walk the walk and live as you preach, children will not take it seriously. The most important time in a child’s life are the first four years when they emotionally connect with their parents. (Learn How to Find Your Guru.)

The Four A's of Child Rearing

Between the ages of 1 and 4, children require four things: attention, affection, appreciation and acceptance. Acceptance means you’re not trying to impose change on them in the way you think. Appreciation is noticing good qualities. Affection is making them feel safe and nurtured and attention is being a good listener.

If you do those four things, their emotional brain develops very strongly and there’s a phenomenon that actually occurs. It’s called limbic resonance. Your limbic brain is your emotional brain, and it resonates through mirror neurons so the child’s neurons mirror the neurons of the caretaker's. It’s automatic, you don’t have to say anything, you have to be that. (Read more in Be Brave, Be Free.)

Acceptance in Marriage

As far as spouse and other family members are concerned, I think the most important thing is acceptance. Again, when there are marital conflicts, it’s usually because each person is trying to impose their idea of how things should be. Having been married for over four decades, I know that my wife accepts me as I am, and I accept her as she is. Acceptance should overrule tolerance; I don’t like the word “tolerance,” it means you’re suffering, because you’re tolerating. Instead, you accept the other person as they are. Don’t try to impose change, that’s the key. You can have a lot of love without wanting something in return because that’s what a relationship is. It’s giving your love unconditionally, and if you give it enough, you get it. (Learn more in Exploring Aversion.)

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