Nurturing Others

Reviewed Mar 14, 2016

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Summary

Nurturing requires:

  • Unconditional love
  • Loving touch
  • Discipline
  • Empathy
  • Affirmation

“In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

—Albert Schweitzer

Nurturing is fundamental to the human experience. Propelled by love for another, nurture is both a set of behaviors as well as an emotional and spiritual environment. The literature on nurturing comes primarily from child development research regarding parents and children, which emphasizes the importance of raising children in a warm, trusting, caring, and structured home.

There are five overarching principles that define nurturing. These principles extend to all human relationships across the life span:

Unconditional love, attachment, and connectedness—Attachment is key to the parent-child bond. Children who fail to attach develop insecurities that can undermine their social and emotional development. Connectedness, like attachment, is also a bonding between two people based on trust and empathy and can develop at any time in the life span.

The cornerstone for attachment and connectedness is unconditional love. Knowing we are loved and cared about in spite of our flaws and failures is the foundation for healthy relationships. When we experience unconditional love, communication, trust, and respect follow.

Loving touch—Touch is one of the most powerful interactions between parents and children. Children who are kissed and held frequently develop strong physical health and strong bonds with their parents. For a child, touch is the manifestation of unconditional love. For teens and adults, loving touch is less frequent but is still necessary to affirm the love we need from others.

Discipline, accountability, and mentoring—Setting age-appropriate limits, teaching morality and right-from-wrong actions, and teaching respect for others is the other side of nurturing. As we grow into adults, discipline turns to “accountability” to others such as family, friends, and other commitments throughout the life span.

Mentoring is a common form of nurturing others in work, sports, education, and religious communities. Mentoring is a combination of encouragement, training, and accountability. Most successful people attest to the impact of a special mentor in their life.

Empathy and feelings—Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the place of others. Empathy involves feeling what the other person is feeling and thinking, and communicating that understanding back to him. When we are hurting, empathy from a loved one is often the best medicine.

Affirmation and praise—Children need and crave praise and affirmation from their parents. Being told how special they are and receiving praise for their accomplishments sets the groundwork for healthy self-esteem. As we grow and engage the world, being recognized for our success, perseverance, and struggles affirms our worth by reminding us of the love and praise we received as small children.

The ability to nurture children is innate for parents. When love and bonding occur, a child becomes emotionally wired to give and receive love and develop mutually rewarding relationships in adulthood. In other words, those who are properly nurtured have the ability to nurture others.

It is the nurture we receive from others that sustains life and makes it worth living. Mother Theresa said it best: “We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.”

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS

Summary

Nurturing requires:

  • Unconditional love
  • Loving touch
  • Discipline
  • Empathy
  • Affirmation

“In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

—Albert Schweitzer

Nurturing is fundamental to the human experience. Propelled by love for another, nurture is both a set of behaviors as well as an emotional and spiritual environment. The literature on nurturing comes primarily from child development research regarding parents and children, which emphasizes the importance of raising children in a warm, trusting, caring, and structured home.

There are five overarching principles that define nurturing. These principles extend to all human relationships across the life span:

Unconditional love, attachment, and connectedness—Attachment is key to the parent-child bond. Children who fail to attach develop insecurities that can undermine their social and emotional development. Connectedness, like attachment, is also a bonding between two people based on trust and empathy and can develop at any time in the life span.

The cornerstone for attachment and connectedness is unconditional love. Knowing we are loved and cared about in spite of our flaws and failures is the foundation for healthy relationships. When we experience unconditional love, communication, trust, and respect follow.

Loving touch—Touch is one of the most powerful interactions between parents and children. Children who are kissed and held frequently develop strong physical health and strong bonds with their parents. For a child, touch is the manifestation of unconditional love. For teens and adults, loving touch is less frequent but is still necessary to affirm the love we need from others.

Discipline, accountability, and mentoring—Setting age-appropriate limits, teaching morality and right-from-wrong actions, and teaching respect for others is the other side of nurturing. As we grow into adults, discipline turns to “accountability” to others such as family, friends, and other commitments throughout the life span.

Mentoring is a common form of nurturing others in work, sports, education, and religious communities. Mentoring is a combination of encouragement, training, and accountability. Most successful people attest to the impact of a special mentor in their life.

Empathy and feelings—Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the place of others. Empathy involves feeling what the other person is feeling and thinking, and communicating that understanding back to him. When we are hurting, empathy from a loved one is often the best medicine.

Affirmation and praise—Children need and crave praise and affirmation from their parents. Being told how special they are and receiving praise for their accomplishments sets the groundwork for healthy self-esteem. As we grow and engage the world, being recognized for our success, perseverance, and struggles affirms our worth by reminding us of the love and praise we received as small children.

The ability to nurture children is innate for parents. When love and bonding occur, a child becomes emotionally wired to give and receive love and develop mutually rewarding relationships in adulthood. In other words, those who are properly nurtured have the ability to nurture others.

It is the nurture we receive from others that sustains life and makes it worth living. Mother Theresa said it best: “We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.”

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS

Summary

Nurturing requires:

  • Unconditional love
  • Loving touch
  • Discipline
  • Empathy
  • Affirmation

“In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

—Albert Schweitzer

Nurturing is fundamental to the human experience. Propelled by love for another, nurture is both a set of behaviors as well as an emotional and spiritual environment. The literature on nurturing comes primarily from child development research regarding parents and children, which emphasizes the importance of raising children in a warm, trusting, caring, and structured home.

There are five overarching principles that define nurturing. These principles extend to all human relationships across the life span:

Unconditional love, attachment, and connectedness—Attachment is key to the parent-child bond. Children who fail to attach develop insecurities that can undermine their social and emotional development. Connectedness, like attachment, is also a bonding between two people based on trust and empathy and can develop at any time in the life span.

The cornerstone for attachment and connectedness is unconditional love. Knowing we are loved and cared about in spite of our flaws and failures is the foundation for healthy relationships. When we experience unconditional love, communication, trust, and respect follow.

Loving touch—Touch is one of the most powerful interactions between parents and children. Children who are kissed and held frequently develop strong physical health and strong bonds with their parents. For a child, touch is the manifestation of unconditional love. For teens and adults, loving touch is less frequent but is still necessary to affirm the love we need from others.

Discipline, accountability, and mentoring—Setting age-appropriate limits, teaching morality and right-from-wrong actions, and teaching respect for others is the other side of nurturing. As we grow into adults, discipline turns to “accountability” to others such as family, friends, and other commitments throughout the life span.

Mentoring is a common form of nurturing others in work, sports, education, and religious communities. Mentoring is a combination of encouragement, training, and accountability. Most successful people attest to the impact of a special mentor in their life.

Empathy and feelings—Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the place of others. Empathy involves feeling what the other person is feeling and thinking, and communicating that understanding back to him. When we are hurting, empathy from a loved one is often the best medicine.

Affirmation and praise—Children need and crave praise and affirmation from their parents. Being told how special they are and receiving praise for their accomplishments sets the groundwork for healthy self-esteem. As we grow and engage the world, being recognized for our success, perseverance, and struggles affirms our worth by reminding us of the love and praise we received as small children.

The ability to nurture children is innate for parents. When love and bonding occur, a child becomes emotionally wired to give and receive love and develop mutually rewarding relationships in adulthood. In other words, those who are properly nurtured have the ability to nurture others.

It is the nurture we receive from others that sustains life and makes it worth living. Mother Theresa said it best: “We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.”

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS

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