Loving Children, Parents and Pets Unconditionally

There are thoughts of eternity in the human heart.  The fight against time, via supplements, health and beauty aids is strong evidence that we desire to live long.  However, the most overlooked and underestimated life-extender is right under our noses, literally.  Humans themselves have the elixir of life.  It is within their own heart.  

All human beings require the tender touches, gentle strokes and the reassurance of unconditional love.  These draw out pain, provide internal security, create a safe zone for creativity [learning], to reach their greatest potential.  A scrapped knee, a dead goldfish, hurt feelings…all made a little better by the loving care of a mother. A child doesn’t care how much you know, only how much you care.  And that unconditional love tells them how much you care.  This is more likely to produce an adult that cares for others.   

If the arch-type of unconditional love is mom, dad’s is the foundation.  He plays rough and tumble, building trust in their father’s strength.  Physical, hands-on activity like horseback rides add a great sense of security.  Being a father I try not to take it personally that my children run to mom first, but I admit I am a bit jealous at times.  However, I have grown comfortable with each of our tendencies ands strengths.  Rather than oppose each other, the opposites attract.  This creates a nice balance for children.  

I am a father and now grandfather; I now understand that instead of competing, men and women enhance each other and actually work together.  I was also a single parent (father) for a season and I know how hard it is being the one and only source for the child.  But you are never really alone if you seek out the One True Father of us all.  There are, in God’s eyes, no single parents, just a parent who doesn’t seek His help.  Knowing God’s nature, why wouldn’t He come to your aid.  Mostly it is because we do not ask.  

Love and Discipline of Children are Inseparable

At the times that children are throwing tantrums and screaming and being the most difficult “monster” they can possibly be…is, ironically, the greatest opportunity you have to just love them.  When they are at their worst, your love is at it’s best (and most powerful).  Believe it or not.  This is also the worst time to respond in like manner (ie, yelling), which serves to only escalate the behavior.  It is sometimes helpful to repeat what the child says as put into a question form.  Like, “really, ?, you hate your little brother?!”.  When echoed back to the child, the child is able to process what they have said.  Their emotions run ahead of their processing, particularly more so at age 13 to 17.   Some start earlier, so later.  But understand that a child’s brain, and hormonal equilibrium are not fully mature until around 25 years-old!  When they act the worst, they need love the most.  Strange but true.

If you have a difficult child who is head strong, the fact is you really don’t want the opposite.  You might feel that you would, but think about it.  A soft-spoken, inverted, self-esteem-less child is a doormat waiting to be walked on by everyone.  That’s worse, right?.  As hard as it is to believe it right now, the great majority of children and parents do get through it.  That’s the good news.  All of your advice and teachings will not actually be appreciated until they are likely gone or in their Senior year.  It doesn’t all leak out.  So, take heart. Kids do have a conscious.  It just doesn’t always show up because it is still developing (in the brain).  When I used to work for Head Start as a Regional Child Development Director, the best thing I could tell teachers was to just “love the child….tell them you don’t  like the behavior, but you do like them”.   Tell them I know your behavior and you are not the same thing.  Given unconditional love,  you separate the behavior from the child.   And be creative, maybe putting the toy or MP3 in time out, and not the child.  Children don’t really care how much you know, until they really know how much you care.  

I am an eyewitness that it is possible that the mechanism by which altruistic love flows, affects health; through blocking or attenuating the stress response, or through activating positive neurotransmitter pathways in the brain.   Conversely, loneliness breeds congestive heart failure.  Just as nature abhors a vacuum, a lack of love can lead to a collapse within; like a black hole, not even light can escape.  There appears to be some point of no return.  The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference…apathy.

Love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well. If a new medication had the same impact, failure to prescribe it would be considered malpractice.  Connections with other people affect not only the quality of our lives but also our survival. Study after study find that people who feel lonely are many times more likely to get cardiovascular disease than those who have a strong sense of connection and community. I'm not aware of any other factor in medicine—not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery—that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death.

In one study at Yale, men and women who felt the most loved and supported had substantially less blockage in their coronary arteries. Similarly, researchers from Case Western Reserve University studied almost 10,000 married men and found that those who answered “yes” to this simple question—”Does your wife show you her love?”—had significantly less angina (chest pain). And when researchers at Duke surveyed men and women with heart disease, those who were single and lacked confidants were three times as likely to have died after five years. In all three studies, the protective effects of love were independent of other risk factors.  Plus surgery patients experienced quicker recoveries.  

Pets Unconditional Love

Pets — just like our own children.  No doubt this is nearly universal.  Good for us, since owning one lowers blood pressure, extends lifespan, boosts mood, provides humor, releases pain killing and mood elevating endorphins, and just plain provide companionship.  They don’t care how bad things went at work.  They just care you are home.  It is not surprising that animals are excellent in reaching and connecting with people;  mentally disabled, autistic children and even juvenile delinquents, whom many grew up angry, being themselves deprived of love.  Animals are therapeutic to both  patient and owner;  horses, cats,  dogs,  birds.  My shadow is my black cat, Midnight, the most affectionate I have ever seen and exactly what we needed since out “Reddy” of 20 years passed away this year.

A Definition of Love

Love is intangibles;  feelings of security, acceptance, love, affection.  Love is also tangible, such as actions that provide evidence of love.  It is not just a feeling or being in an emotional state.  Love endures much and last forever once a relationship is initiated.  As a husband, father and now grandfather (X3), when I do the dishes, bring some flowers, do a load of laundry, changing the litter box, leave little notes of appreciation, etc., I fulfill what love is:  A verb.  It’s what you do!
The interesting thing is, the more you give away, the more you receive.  It is impossible to give away too much, nor can you ever receive too much.  God gave His only Son because He loves us.  Jesus, who is God, came as man to die to redeem us.   So God the Father sent Jesus (also God), to die on the Cross for simple creatures like us so we can live forever with Him Who has always existed.  We were so lost and impossibly separated from God, that one of the Triune Gods (Jesus) had to come and die for us.  Wow!  That’s love in action!  Actions do speak louder than words, or feelings, or emotions.  

There is a definite physiochemical connection between being loved and living longer, healthier lives, and that loss of love can lead to lose of life.  After long lives together, a spouse will often follow their deceased mate in a relatively short time.  There is a strong connection to love and health and the number of years lived.  It truly is a “wonder drug” since love can extend the years a person lives.  Same goes for pets.  I have been abundantly inoculated for life.

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