Let No Tank Go Unfilled!

April 30, 2012

A guest post by Jay Morgan from Conscious Parenting

Positive comments generate positive feelings in our children while negative comments generate negative feelings. It’s just about that simple. And one of the most positive feelings we can generate in our children is the feeling of love.

When my daughter Hannah was born, someone gave my wife and I the book, How to Really Love Your Child  by Ross Campbell. At first, I was mildly put off by the title, so I didn’t read it right away. My egoistic thinking was, “I don’t need anybody to tell me how to love my child!” In fact, I couldn’t imagine loving my child more. Hannah was our firstborn: a beautiful baby girl. I was filled to overflowing with love for her.

But when I started reading the book, I discovered Dr. Campbell was writing about how parents can show their children love— specifically, how they can show their children the love they feel for them. I was particularly intrigued with his premise for the book. He noticed in his work with families most all parents felt love for their children. But many of them seemed to make a dangerous presumption. They presumed somehow their children knew how they felt, that somehow their children picked up on and received all the love their parents had for them. Unfortunately, Dr. Campbell writes, this is not the case.

Dr. Campbell describes three ways parents relate their felt love to their children: eye contact, age-appropriate touching, and focused attention. In the book, he introduces a word picture of a young child who has inside her an empty tank. Each time her parents interact with her, they have an opportunity to put some of their felt love into the tank. They might accomplish this through sustained eye contact, through physical touch, or through focused attention. Dr. Campbell surmises if the child’s “tank” is full by early adolescence, she won’t be so inclined to “look for love in all the wrong places” by veering off into destructive activities involving drugs, alcohol, delinquent activities, gangs, and/or sexual escapades.

Dr. Campbell’s book is not just a friendly reminder to parents; it is a blueprint and an insurance policy to help make sure children grow up with an ample supply of parental love which, over time, helps translate into an ample supply of self-love. Heading into adulthood with a “full tank” and being raised by parents who have “loved by example” makes it easier for these teens to develop healthy doses of self-love while having an abundance of love to share with others.

I enthusiastically read Dr. Campbell’s book, took the information, and ran with it. Along with recommending it to parents, I did my best to consciously “fill some tanks” at home and at the office. Over time, a little comedic routine developed between my daughters and me. Emily or Hannah would catch my attention and ask, “Hey Dad how much do you love me?” I would stop what I was doing and say, “Well, I love you this much,” and I would hold my arms and hands out as far apart as I could trying to show them exactly how much I loved them. But my arms could never reach out far enough, so after a moment of teetering back and forth in a desperate attempt to show them just how much love I had for them, I would lose my balance and fall down, usually on top of one of them. We would roll around and have a good laugh as I—you guessed it—made eye contact, engaged in age-appropriate touching, and made them the focus of my attention.

Let no tank go unfilled!

Thanks to Jay for this inspiring post!! Find out more about Jay’s work and his book, Finger Painting in Psyche Class by visiting his
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Finger Painting in Psych Class
Conscious Parenting



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