My son was born just shy of Valentine’s Day. The first article of clothing to adorn his body was a red knitted toque with a white heart on it, donated to the hospital by caring volunteers. His first experience of the world, besides utter shock I assume, was one of love. Warm, soft and cozy love. This emotion is as essential to a baby’s health as air, shelter and a relentless supply of their Mama’s house white. Sorry, Ms. Turner, love is not just a second-hand emotion, it is everything.
Studies have proven that a home lacking in love can increase stress levels in children and negatively affect their growth. Their bodies go into survival mode, constantly high on adrenaline, as they do not feel safe. Receiving genuine affection and care strengthens a child’s well-being adding positive benefits to not only their physical health but to their cognitive development as well. Amidst our busy modern schedules, it is crucial that we make time to shower our children with love. Unconditional, unending love. Love that is given without any expectations in return.
Love requires action. There are many ways that parents can show love to their children at any age. Infants receive love through being held, and through hugging and cuddling. Through playing and laughing on the floor together through games. Holding hands on walks through the woods. For older children, love can be experienced by spending a day together on the hill. Through remembering and celebrating key moments and milestones. Even when your teenager is pushing you away and shouting, “I hate you!” That is the moment to love them even more. To take a deep breath and hold a space of calm for them. In the end, there are a million ways for children to be appreciated, and no one way is better than the other.
How to love is a learned behaviour. As parents, now more than ever, my partner and I are conscious of our own relationship and how we model romantic love. Our relationship is not perfect, I’m not sure if any partnership is, but we are committed to making it the best that we can through open communication, trust and support. We also know the importance of having fun together and making time to be on our own. As much as we do not like to be regimented, it is so important to pencil in time together or a date night. Our happiness will only increase the happiness of our child and show him what it means to actively love another.
My dream for my son is to never ever doubt that he is loved for exactly who he is. That he can take this love and confidence and fearlessly give it to another. To love without fear of authentic expression. To love without fear of vulnerability. And most significantly, to love without having to compromise or hide who he is. I will encourage him to wear his heart on his sleeve and let love in. Through love, we learn who we are, and that is the most valuable lesson of all.
Are you also a Fernie Mountain Mama? Please feel free to share your outdoor adventures, family stories and photos by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, or hashtag #ferniemountainmamas to encourage more parents to take their little ones outdoors and share in all the fun that Fernie has to offer.