What does it mean to build strong children? What does “strong” mean? Is it reflecting physical strength, emotional strength? What are we trying to accomplish? Here is a quote that might help:
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ~ Fredrick Douglas
If we look at this quote, and specifically give our attention to “broken men” (or women), what comes to my mind is the heart. When a child is “broken,” I think of their spirit.
Our job as parents is very complex. We want our children to be self-sufficient, independent, and yet connected and loving. We want them to be able to make their own choices, and yet we also want them to listen and do as we ask. Sometimes we are out of energy and we hurt their feelings. Sometimes we are patient, loving and kind. Sometimes they are emotional and “out of control,” and sometimes they are so sweet and caring, they make us cry.
It isn’t always easy to do the “right” thing. And we don’t always know what that “right” thing is. When we think of building “strong” children and doing the “right” thing, I suggest we look at the heart and feel our way through this part of our parenting journey. A strong heart has been fed with love, with dignity, respect, and connection. A heart that has been filled with acknowledgement and quality time is strong. A heart that has been nurtured and listened to, held and received … is strong.
As we continue on our parenting journey of academics, hygiene, schedules, athletics, play, balance, and everything else that goes into raising a child, let us first and foremost think of, “How am I feeding the heart of this child?” “How am I nurturing the soul in this body?” “How am I leaving an impression of love that will last a lifetime, and will feed millions when my child touches the lives of others from this beautiful place?”
Let us build our strong children from the inside out. Let us support them in healing the things that have hurt them to date. And, especially, let us give this same love and adoration to ourselves, for wanting to provide so much for our children. Let us re-parent ourselves with love, acceptance and nurturing. What do you need in order to feel strong? How can you model for your child how to give that to yourself? That is a whole separate skill, and one of huge value.
Enjoy the love and connection this will create in your family! And, remember … a “strong” child is a connected, loved, loving and empowered child, with a sense of self, freedom, joy and happiness! You have the power to give that to your child, and to yourself. What an incredible opportunity.