53-THE ART OF INTIMACY

Meaningful rewarding relationships, whether sex is involved or not, are impossible unless one learns to be intimate. I choose to replace the word love with intimacy because love is used in all sorts of concoctions, like in ‘making love’, a totally absurd expression. Though sexual attraction can morph into love over time, sex is not love. Sex lasts an instant, sexual attraction can last a few years, but  love like the one felt for a parent lasts a lifetime.

Intimacy is the cornerstone of our happiness, for if we don’t learn how to be intimate as a child, we are condemned to having lame relationships throughout our whole life. Intimacy requires the ability to open and commit, that is, to trust to the point of being vulnerable, and that’s not the easiest thing to do. It requires suspending control, while merging emotionally. We have an innate need to experience physical and emotional closeness with another human being in order to grow emotionally, and that need for connection is with us from the day we’re born. If we are to have a chance at a fulfilling life, we have to be taught to connect at that time.

Historically, tribes were a critical part of our human experience, for we needed the group in order to survive. If one was banished from his tribe that was as good as a death sentence. In the global village, that is no longer the case, but if a child does not experience intimacy, it’s akin to being banished by the larger tribe, for establishing meaningful future relationships will be impossible. From day one, the child must be treated as a full member of the family team, he must be shown intimacy, valorized and supported on an ongoing basis, or else he will spend his whole life unconnected in a great but sad virtual world. The secret to a good life is to belong to a family where children are intimately connected to parents and siblings, which in turn allows the child to later repeat the process by creating his own family.

The following is a summary of what the American Psychological Association says on how parents can connect with their children. ‘Parents must be available for their children at bedtime, before dinner, and in the car, in order to let them know they care about what’s happening in their lives. Conversations should be initiated by sharing what they have been thinking about. They have to make sure they let their kids know they’re listening by stopping whatever they’re doing. They should respect their privacy by treating matters one on one, and express interest in what they are saying without being intrusive. Letting them complete their point before responding and repeating to make sure they know that the parent understands them correctly is highly recommended. Parents should soften strong reactions; kids will tune them out if they appear angry or defensive. Parents should express their opinion without putting down theirs, while acknowledging that it’s okay to disagree. Letting them know that nobody is necessarily right or wrong, that circumstances have to be weighed in, while focusing on the child’s feelings is a wise modus operandi.

Parents should ask their children what they may want or need from them in a conversation, such as advice, simply listening, help in dealing with feelings or help solving a problem. Kids learn by imitating. Most often, they will follow the parents’ lead in how they deal with anger, solve problems and work through difficult feelings. Because kids also learn from their own choices, parents shouldn’t feel they have to step in as long as the consequences are not dangerous. Realizing their children may test them by telling them only a small part of what is bothering them, parents can encourage them to talk and may even get them to share the rest of the story if they listen carefully to what they say.

Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between parents and children. To the small child, a mother’s or father’s words are important, comforting, and soothing. Parents should use this to their advantage, for communicating thoughts and ideas is not a skill they or their children are born with. They shouldn’t just love them, they should tell them they love them. If parents create a trusting intimate relationship from the day their child is born, it’ll naturally carry on into the very difficult teen years and beyond.’

If a child is to have the best quality of life in the best of all possible worlds, he or she has to be familiar with intimacy. As for the parents who have never been connected, the cycle can be broken and their kids spared if they know why they have difficulty being intimate and if they don’t stop trying to do something about it.

Because too many of us have never known intimacy, the 100-year-old sexual revolution that we’re undergoing is a social disaster. Since I am an enlightened victim, I intend to shed light on the subject, and since it’s an almost impossible task, all I can do is acquaint as many people as possible with my findings. So far, in previous postings, although not exhaustive in nature, I have given what I think is a plausible account of how we got to this wonderful world of credit. That was the easy part. Now, I have to show to those who accept my synopsis of history, ways to take advantage of that great world. With that in mind, I decided to depict the life of two imaginary horny teens who both have been taught intimacy by their parents, and who are both intent on finding the key to having a family that’ll defy the passage of time. By showing how they go about planning for a permanent family dream team, and especially how they intend to deal with the sexual minefield that lies before them, it should create a mood for fruitful reflection.

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