The belief that children must be punished to learn better behaviors is illogical. Children learn to roll, crawl, walk, talk, read, and other complex behaviors without a need for punishment. Why, then, wouldn’t the same gentle guidance, support, and awareness of developmental capabilities that parents employ to help their little ones learn those complex skills also work to help them learn to pet the cat gently and draw on paper instead of walls?
― L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages
Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives. Numerous studies of disaster response around the globe have shown that social support is the most powerful protection against becoming overwhelmed by stress and trauma.
Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety.
Family was even a bigger word than I imagined, wide and without limitations, if you allowed it, defying easy definition. You had family that was supposed to be family and wasn’t, family that wasn’t family but was, halves becoming whole, wholes splitting into two; it was possible to lack whole, honest love and connection from family in lead roles, yet to be filled to abundance by the unexpected supporting players.
―Deb Caletti, The Secret Life of Prince Charming
He was really trying to be my friend, without all the emotional baggage we both carried – mine still with me, but carefully folded in vacuum bags so they’d occupy as little room as possible and his, hanging on his shoulders like lead armor, making him slouch sometimes. And yet, as pinned down as he was, he was the one comforting me, supporting not only his weight but mine, too. It wasn’t fair.