How to Love the Child You Have

Love and acceptance aren’t always easy, especially if you have a young child whose temperament you find difficult.

Maybe you’re a talker and your little one is the silent, shy type. Maybe you’re fiercely independent and your toddler is clingy. Maybe you’re already overworked and exhausted and you’ve got a 14-month-old who started walking at 9 months and now climbs everything in sight. Whatever the differences are, maybe you wish your child were easier to love.

There are times we as parents wish we could change our children, from tweaking one annoying behavior to a full personality makeover. What we want even more, though, is to give them the greatest gift we as parents can offer…


To quote Dr. Laura Markham from her post “10 Ways to Love the One You’re With” on her Aha! Parenting blog:

“The kids who thrive are the ones who FEEL loved, accepted and cherished for exactly who they are. “ // Aha! Parenting

Can you imagine having grown up feeling unconditionally loved? Totally accepted? Fully seen? Cherished for exactly who you are? I didn’t grow up feeling that way, but I’m certainly going to do everything I can to help my daughter experience those feelings in my presence.

Motherly love

Dr. Markham has a wonderful list of ten ways to love the child you have, and I’m going to use it! Below, I handpicked my favorite five tips from her post to tell you how I’m putting her wisdom to use:

  1. Delight in your child. I do sincerely feel immensely lucky to have the daughter I have. I try to tell her every day, but I’m also keeping a journal that I hope she reads one day. In it, I write over and over how thankful I am that she came into my life.
  1. Really notice your child. I remember being frequently ignored and dismissed as a child. Ultimately, I internalized the idea that who I was and what I wanted didn’t matter. In response to that childhood, I pay close, loving attention to my little one and respond – whether she’s crying or just pointing at something – so she knows I’m always here. I’m always listening. Who she is and what she wants will always matter to me.
  1. See things from her perspective. We are not adversaries. Don’t buy into the idea of power struggles between you and your child. We’re a family. We’re on the same team. I’ve worked hard in my marriage to always see my husband’s viewpoint, whether I agree or not. I’m committed to offering that same respect to my daughter.
  1. Empathize. To me, this is everything. This is parenthood. This is what it takes. Not responding, reacting, dictating, or punishing. It’s about connecting to this person you love by honoring their very real emotions and experiences without judgment.
  1. Own your reactions. One of the best things my husband and I have done in our marriage consistently, and with great success, is take responsibility for our own emotional states, our own happiness and unhappiness. As adults, being able to do this for our child will not only relieve her of the pressure to please us but it also models for her emotional intelligence.

Again, those are just my favorite five from Dr. Markham’s list. Visit her post to read the full ten and then come back to let us know …

How are you going to implement these steps in your own life?



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