What do you see when you look into the eyes of a newborn?
When I first looked into the eyes of my son, I saw trustfulness, curiosity and
joyfulness. I saw no deviousness, meanness or selfishness. In that instant it became
clear to me that if he ever acted in a devious, mean, or selfish way, his behavior
would have been created by circumstances, not by him. In that instant, I knew what a
great responsibility I had to honor and protect his innocence and joy in life.
Children are born innocent. They want only to be loved, to learn, and to
contribute. Those parents who are not able to appreciate this truth miss what should
be the most precious moment of their life. They cannot trust their child - they
instead suspect him of being somehow flawed and requiring constant correction. The
emphasis is on fixing something, not on enjoying and learning about this new person.
The focus, from that point on, is on the child's behavior, not on the parent-child
A parent's attitude is absolutely critical in determining the kind of relationship
they will have with their child. I find nothing sadder than seeing a parent who has
somehow missed seeing their child's basic sweetness and good intentions, and thus
believes that punishment is necessary to set him on the right path. This parent is
always watchful, looking for ways to correct the child, which stifles his natural
exuberance. This kind of suspiciousness is self-fulfilling - the child who is punished
responds emotionally - as does any other person - with anger and fantasies of revenge,
and physiologically with a burst of the stress hormone cortisol. The parent then feels
justified in continuing and even escalating the punishments. The child is from then on
seen as potential trouble - as the enemy.
The parent who is fortunate enough to see in his newborn's eyes only love,
curiosity, and joy, will continue to trust and enjoy their child. Instead of looking
for "misbehavior", this parent looks for ways to connect and to bring joy
into their child's life. This attitude is also self-fulfilling, because love begets
love. The child responds to being loved and trusted as we all do - by loving and
trusting in return.
What takes place at the moment a parent first looks into their child's eyes sets
the stage for a lifetime of joyful connection, or a lifetime of struggle. It sets the
stage for a rewarding relationship of trust and connection, or a battle between
adversaries. This first meeting carries the seeds of years of happiness or misery. For
those who can see their newborn's innocence and pure intentions, parenting may be
challenging at times, but it is never a burden.
Look closely at this new being. Learn from him how delightful and simple life is
meant to be. It's just an instant of time, but once this truth is fully grasped, it