Are you one of those parents who wants to connect with your kids in a more meaningful way? Then you are in the right place! Keep reading to learn why you should stop overthinking it, trust your gut, and follow your heart.
One night when my brother was young, my father woke from a deep slumber with an overwhelming sense of urgency to check on my brother. He couldn’t explain it, he just felt like something was wrong, that somehow my brother was in danger.
My father ran to my brother’s bedroom to investigate.
My brother had fallen asleep with his baby ring, which was now way too small for him, on his finger. The ring was cutting off his circulation and his whole finger was black and blue. Unable to get the ring off, my dad rushed him to the ER.
The hospital staff were able to cut the ring off and save his finger, but it was an extremely close call. If my dad had listened to his head, instead of listening to his gut and following his heart, my brother could have lost this finger. Some 40 years later my brother still remembers how our father’s heroic efforts to save his finger.
It is not uncommon to hear parents tell these types of stories. Similarly, cultures around the world are littered with expressions like “trust your gut” and “follow your heart.”
However, too often people ignore these subtle intuitive feelings, that they don’t fully understand, and turn instead to their cognitive rational minds for direction.
This is a shame, because when it comes to connecting with your children, trusting your gut and listening to your heart is the best way forward.
If this all sounds a bit too fluffy for you, consider the research…
Listen To Your Gut
Studies of the Enteric Nervous System, aka your belly brain, reveal that inside your stomach are 500 million neurons, about five times more than your spinal cord. Also referred to as the primitive brain, don’t let the name fool you! This brain is older and arguably wiser than the brain inside your skull.
Justin and Erica Sonnerburg, PhDs explain, “This mind-gut connection is not just metaphorical. Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons…”
Additionally, research suggests that just like the brain in your skull, this system sends and receives impulses, records experiences and responds to emotions.
Follow Your Heart
While traditional studies of communication pathways between the head and heart have focused primarily on the heart’s responses to the brain’s commands, we are beginning to see that communication between the heart and brain actually is a dynamic, ongoing, two-way dialogue.
Research has shown that the heart communicates to the brain in four major ways:
- neurologically – through the transmission of nerve impulses
- biochemically – via hormones and neurotransmitters
- biophysically – through pressure waves
- energetically – through electromagnetic field interactions
The message sent from the heart to the brain significantly affects the brain’s activity.
Start At The Source
Understanding how this relates to a more connected relationship with your child will require you to have a solid understanding of both the afferent and efferent nervous systems.
While we tend to think of the nervous system as linear, brain > body or body > brain, it is in fact circular. The afferent nervous system, or the arrival system, delivers data (sensations, etc.) from the world around you to the brain. The efferent nervous system, or the exit system, converts brain activity into action (words, behaviors, etc.).
Additionally, we just learned that the belly and the heart participate in the process of sending data to the brain. In other words, when interacting with your child, who is part of the world around you, your belly and heart will begin to process this interaction before the brain is even aware the interaction is taking place.
To be fair this span of time between on-boarding the belly and heart and on-boarding the brain is far smaller than the conscious mind can register.
Even still, when trying to connect with your child, feeling into your gut and your heart, rather than defaulting to the cognitive centers of the mind to think it through, can be transformational.
Unlike the brain, the heart and the belly are not influenced by ego. This means the information you can gather from the belly and the heart is less about you and more about the feeling of being a parent connecting with a child.
Next time you find yourself stumbling and struggling to connect with your child, stop and ask yourself,
“Am I overthinking this? What does my gut tell me? What would my heart have me do now?”
Parents who are serious about connecting with their kids will definitely want to check out these e-books, brought to you by Rich Legacy:
8 Ways For Busy Dads To Improve Their Relationship With Their Children
8 Ways For Mompreneurs To Improve Their Relationship With Their Children