by Bernie Siegel, MD

“There is no greater blessing than the capacity to give birth, for it is the one opportunity we have to truly create, and to create something from our own flesh and blood.” These are the words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson in the book Toward A Meaningful Life. He goes on to say that we are creating something out of nothing and that bearing children is our one opportunity to act in a G-dlike manner and to touch eternity.

He also asks would it not be easier if we were created as adults instead of children and able to provide for our selves? “But there is a beautiful lesson in childhood itself-above all, that a child is genuine and innocent, and that such innocence is the foundation of life.

From my work as a physician with people with life threatening illnesses I have come to see how vital it is to grow up feeling loved and with mottoes to live by and not die by.

For the first six years of a child’s life its brain wave pattern resembles that of someone under hypnosis. So the child is being entranced by the words it hears from the authorities in its life. When a child grows up hearing negative messages about how it disappoints and embarrasses its parents, never feels a loving touch and is abused physically and psychologically with indifference and rejection it will choose a path of self destruction, addictions and revenge. When this happens the world and its inhabitants suffer from their actions.

Studies show that those children who do not feel loved have almost a 100% incidence of major illnesses by midlife. While those who felt loved as children have closer to a 25% illness rate by that age. Information is not what children need. They need inspiration and a feeling of self worth and esteem. You do not have to like what they do but you have to love them. You can point out what you don’t like rather than ask, “What’s wrong with you?” and have your words eat away at them for a lifetime.

Children need to grow up with mottoes to live by. Parents who tell them to do what makes them happy, when they have decisions to make, will put them in touch with their feelings and heart’s wisdom. When troubles occur they can be told, “It was meant to be G-d is redirecting you; something good will come of this.” Thus their view of the future becomes a hopeful one and not a destructive one. Let them know that material things are to make the world a better place for us all to live and that when you are happy you are a success but when you are a success you are not happy. I always remember the young man in my office who said, “My father ruined my life when I was twenty one. He gave me a million dollars. I had to be a success.” I keep thinking about what his father would have said if he came home and said, “Dad, I started a charity for sick children.” Would he have yelled at him for wasting his money?

And as Martin Buber shares when G-d doesn’t answer your prayers it is because you are at full term and like a woman ready to give birth are to be born again through your own efforts and labor pains.

For me life is a labor pain and when we can accept that we will have less pain because giving birth to our child or ourselves is worthwhile and justified. The key in life is to teach your children that they decide which pains are worthwhile to experience because of the final result and not subject themselves to pain and problems because others prescribe them.

When we are loved we are immortal and our consciousness and presence is never lost to our survivors. In my book Love, Magic & Mudpies I give lots of practical advice about how to make the magic happen and turn the mud pies into castles. When we raise every child to feel loved, be kind and make a difference the world’s problems will all be resolved.