The Best Gift You Can Give Your Child

My sister hugs our dad while my pet chameleon frolics on his shoulder

Years ago, I attended a lecture on healing by Dr. Bernie Siegel. During a guided meditation, Bernie asked everyone to close their eyes and visualize the child they used to be. He told us to go back to a specific event that had wounded us, to embrace the child we used to be, to give it the love and compassionate understanding it needed, to talk to that child and assure our former self that it was cherished and wonderful just as it was. As the meditation continued, I looked around. People were overcome with emotion. Tears were running down their cheeks as they bravely addressed the wounds they had struggled with since childhood.

Me? I felt nothing . . . but joy. I was beaming, remembering how loved, safe and secure I had felt as a child. I had racked my brain while Bernie spoke but could come up with no incidents, no wounds. I felt incredibly blessed to have been so unconditionally loved that my childhood was unmarred by emotional pain and turmoil.

The momma and me

After Bernie’s lecture, I wrote my mom and dad a letter. I told them that we had been instructed to recall a painful incident from our childhood and that I couldn’t think of anything other than the usual speedbumps every kid experiences. As I had numerous times before, I thanked them for giving me a happy and wonderful kidhood. My mom taped the letter to the basement door, where it stayed for quite some time.

Were my parents perfect? Nope. They’d be the first to admit that. But here’s the thing: parents don’t have to be perfect. All they have to do is love their kids unconditionally. When kids feel loved and cherished, incidents and circumstances that might traumatize others don’t have any power to inflict lasting damage.

It doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter if your kids have the latest clothes, games or technology. Loving them with all your heart is the best gift you can possibly give them, and the only gift that ultimately matters. Anything else is just details.

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2 Responses to “The Best Gift You Can Give Your Child”

  1. Serena Says:

    Phil, what a blessing that you could go through the meditation without a single tear. For those of us who had more “intense” childhood experiences, it is never too late to heal. I used to facilitate parent support groups some years ago. It always broke my heart to see how much many parents went out of their way to buy their children the latest clothes and games. As you said, these are not the things kids need. What they need instead is quality time in which their parents give them that unconditional love they have for them.

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Yes, it’s a lesson that I hope parents learn sooner rather than later, Serena. I’m glad you could facilitate groups and contribute to that healing.

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