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 connection.
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 lasts forever.