In the heart of a child, parental warmth is the difference between being ‘knowing’ one’s loved and ‘feeling’ one is loved.
For a toddler, warmth is felt when a mother uses her enthusiasm to pacify and distract a grouchy child rather than getting locked into a power struggle of ‘Do as I say or else…’.
For the school-age child, warmth is the applying of humor, motivation, and empathy to help change behavior rather than creating shame or ridicule.
For the adolescent, warmth is an arm around the shoulder or a hug, when he or she is hurting, and everyone knows, words and guidance are not required.
On a philosophical note, warmth is that fragile flower, that gets crushed, when a parent feels overwhelmed, exhausted, taken for granted, not understood, mistreated, or simply sad.
Warmth is easy when the heart is peaceful. Warmth is difficult when the environment is stressful. That is why the Patronus charm in the Harry Potter books in which a wizard must conjure up a powerful happy memory in the face of evil attacks. It truly helps.
So, the essence is this. If I can think happy thoughts in difficult situations, I as a parent can still exude warmth. Cool, isn’t it?
Can we improve parental warmth? Yes, we believe we can. Here are a few ideas…
For some parents, it may involve taking care of themselves so that there is enough in the emotional reserves, for children.
For others, it could involve meditation practices for anchoring on to peace.
For some others, working on improving the relationship that is draining their peace, may be essential.
For still others who are struggling more, it might even involve getting help from other capable people.
Parental warmth is super critical. It is a necessary ingredient deserving of additional conscious effort from everyone invested in improving the lives of children.