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Using Symbols As Nurturing Tools

Most parents strive to provide a nurturing home environment, but achieving that goal can be challenge.

In their new book, "The Book Of Nurturing: Nine Natural Laws For Enriching Your Family Life," bestselling authors, Linda and Richard Eyre suggest that parents go back to the basics of nurturing.

The book is a prequel to their previous bestseller, "Teaching Your Children Values," and in it, the Eyres explain, "The bottom line is that there are some universal family needs, some basic principles of nurturing, even more fundamental than values, and that they must precede and prepare the way for the teaching of values.

"Principles like caring, commitment, consistency, and communication must be in place to create a home atmosphere in which teaching methods will work and values can be taught. These are principles of nurturing and of loving that make children fell secure, valued, and cherished and make them susceptible to the values we hope to teach them."

In each chapter, they illustrate each of the nine natural laws of nurturing with an allegory. They write, "The nine animal stories or natural laws are the distillation of powerful and far-reaching principles. While the basic idea of each is simple and obvious, the details of each story are designed to show how each principle works and what each one requires of us."

The purpose of the allegories and the illustrations are to help people remember the natural laws and what they stand for. "We began to think about the importance and power of symbols, of how they help us stay focused on what really matters and help us make good choices even when we're under pressure," the Eyres write.

A synthesis of the allegories and their corresponding natural laws follows:

  1. COMMITMENT - The Law of the Geese: Geese mate for life, and though they migrate for thousands of miles, they always come home. Families are forever.
  2. PRAISE - The Law of the Crabs: You need only a shallow bucket as you catch crabs because one crab will instinctively pull another back if he tries to climbs out. Families should do more boosting up than pulling down.
  3. COMMUNICATION - The Law of the Whales: The songs of humpback whales encourage one another constantly within their family, or "pod," and they never interrupt! Family communication is all about listening and lifting.
  4. CONSISTENCY- The Law of the Tortoise: The turtle won because he knew (and prioritized) where he was going. In families, steadiness, consistency, and endurance always win (and they make the race enjoyable). Parents' availability is more important than their ability.
  5. DISCIPLINE - The Law of the Elephant's Trunk: An elephant's trunk can lift a 500-pound log or pick a single blade of grass. Family love can be both tough and tender.
  6. SECURITY - The Law of the Redwoods: Redwoods have short, shallow roots, but they intertwine with the other roots in their grove. Families with connected roots stand firm against the wind.
  7. RESPONSIBILITY - The Law of the Bear: Though it's a natural impulse, it's always a dangerous mistake to run from a bear. In our families, we grow when we face responsibility and we shrink when we run from it.
  8. AWARENES - The Law of the Frog: Frogs can get cooked when they lose their awareness or stay too long in their comfort zone. Within families, awareness opens opportunities and defuses danger.
  9. FREEDOM - The Law of the Fleas: Keep fleas in a box long enough and they'll never jump above lid level, even when the lid is gone. Families should be about freedom and empowerment, not about boxes and lids.

Don't miss their interview on Monday's The Early Show.