Your Child's Gifts to You

Although simple, your child's gifts to you are powerful enough to change your life positively.

Unqualified Love

From birth, you are the center of your child's universe. He gives you his love without question and without demand. As he gets older, he will show this love in countless ways, from showering you with his first smiles to giving you his handmade valentines. His love is filled with admiration, affection, loyalty and an intense desire to please you.

Absolute Trust

Your child believes in you. In his eyes, you are strong, capable, powerful and wise. Over time, he will demonstrate this trust by relaxing when you are near, coming to you with problems and proudly pointing you out to others. Sometimes, he will lean on you for protection from things that frighten him, including her own sensitivities. For example, in your presence he may try out new skills that he would never dare alone or with a stranger. He trusts you to keep him safe.

The Thrill of Discovery

Having a child gives you a unique chance to rediscover the pleasure and excitement of childhood. Although you cannot relive your life through your child, you can share in his delight as he explores the world. In the process, you probably will discover abilities and talents you never dreamed you possessed. Feelings of empathy mixed with growing self-awareness will help shape your ability to play and interact with your growing child. Discovering things together, whether they are new skills or words or ways to overcome obstacles, will add to your experience and confidence as a parent and will better prepare you for new challenges that you never even envisioned.

The Heights of Emotion

Through your child, you will experience new heights of joy, love, pride and excitement. You probably also will experience anxiety, anger and frustration. For all those delicious moments when you hold your baby close and feel his loving arms around your neck, there are bound to be times when you feel you cannot communicate. The extremes sometimes become sharper as your child gets older and seeks to establish his independence. The same child who at 3 gaily dances across the room with you may at 4 have a rebellious and active period that surprises you. The extremes are not contradictions, but simply a reality of growing up. For you as a parent, the challenge is to accept and appreciate all the feelings your child expresses himself and arouses in you, and to use them in giving him steady guidance.

Excerpted from Caring for Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, Bantam 1999

© Copyright 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics