By Lana Turnbull
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)
The focus of one of the articles in this issue is the importance of words to the developing brains of babies and young children. Starting at birth baby’s brains are little sponges soaking up everything around them. Long before they can understand the words we say to them, they respond to the sound of our voices, and especially the tone of what we say. They also notice when they don’t hear the sound of our voices and we don’t engage their attention directly. They are totally dependent on us – not just to feed and change them, but to talk to them, respond to them when they cry and comfort them when they are tired, or sick.
Babies and young children know instinctively the difference between someone who is a disinterested caretaker who provides only for their physical needs and a loving parent or caregiver who adds the secret ingredient of love to every action. The truth is, being a loving parent doesn’t require a high paying job, social status or an advanced degree, it does require our time and to do it right, it requires that whatever we do, we do with love.
When my son was young I found a collection of verses that touched my heart. They took a permanent place on our refrigerator door and I read them often to remind myself what a privilege it is to be a parent.
I’m Your Child
I am a child. I am yours.
It matters not if I was born or selected by you;
It matters only that I be loved by you.
Protect me, but don’t smother me;
Guide me, but don’t push me;
Correct me, but don’t criticize me harshly;
Free me, but don’t abandon me;
Shower me with memories I can keep forever,
So long after you are gone those memories
fill my eyes with tears
Rather than my heart with pain.
Listen to my thoughts as I ramble to your tired ears.
Touch my hand – meet my eyes –
Let me know you are there.
Praise me for the little things I do,
For they are great accomplishments in my eyes.
Read to me, for until I gain my knowledge,
You must train my eyes and ears to look and to listen.
Encourage me because I believe in you with all my heart.
But most of all, love me.
For as much as you give,
It is that much and more that I promise to return.
Please love me – it won’t cost too much or take too long.
It won’t make a mess or be too loud.
I won’t break it, but I promise to keep it forever with me.
Someday I will find a special person and share this priceless gift,
For it will never grow old or outdated,
But only grow more beautiful with age.