Whole-hearted Parenting

What can parents do to help their children believe they are worthy of love, empathy and connection?

Brené Brown studies human connection – our ability to empathize, belong, and love. In the following TED talk video, she shares how one of the key functions of parents is to love and to show that love by communicating with their teen in honest, deep and whole-hearted ways.  Brown suggests that …

  • People, who have a strong sense of love and belonging, BELIEVE they are worthy of love and belonging and that belief is the key to having positive connections with other people.  As parents, we build our children’s belief that they are worthy of love and connection by initiating honest communication with our kids and taking the time to listen to our children.
  • As parents we are vulnerable because there are no guarantees about our children. However, vulnerability is choosing to say “I love you” first and our vulnerability can model to our children how to have the courage to be their authentic self with others even when they might feel vulnerable.
  • When our children were toddlers, we helped them express their emotions by teaching them the words to label their emotions (i.e., mad, sad, bad). Now with tween or teen children, our responsibility is to encourage our children not to numb their emotions because, at least in our parent-child relationship, their emotions and vulnerability will be valued and treated with respect.

According to Brown, “Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued – when they can give and receive without judgment.” When we show our teens that we truly value and hear them, we teach them to value themselves and recognize that being vulnerable and trusting with others is critical to healthy, meaningful relationships.

How do you show your teen you value him or her?

When do you feel connected to your teen?


Article by Anne

Anne-Headshot-useAnne is an interim Extension Specialist with Cooperative Extension Family Living Programs at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  She is also a doctoral student in Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and has a masters degree in Public Health. She is the oldest of three children.