Women are natural nurturers. But I often ask myself, what does being nurturing mean? Sometimes, especially at the end of the rough days of family life, I wonder if I what have done that day could be called nurturing. So, if my job as a woman, wife, and mother (not to mention all the other roles that I play) is to be nurturing, I’ve decided to make it my mission to find out exactly what that means.
With the help of Webster’s dictionary, this is the definition of nurturing that I’ve come up with. Nurturing means feeding and educating yourself and others in order to encourage growth. This applies to all of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Its opposite would be doing that which would neglect or hinder progress in those areas. Similar words include: cultivate, encourage, foster, take care of and raise.
So, being nurturing means doing those things necessary to encourage the growth of the object that you nurture. Most often, nurturing has to do with a relationship. For example nurturing your spouse, children and even yourself.
Let’s take a look at some of the parts of this definition in some more depth.
Nurturing Means To Feed
I love the word “feed”. I imagine the many times I have spent sitting in front of a high chair trying to coax my babies to try to eat new foods. Sometimes their eager mouths greedily swallow the food I’m offering and, sometimes, it turns into a mess on the floor (and the walls, and the ceiling, and my face).
Either way, the food they’re given helps them get the nutrients and energy they need to run, play and grow.
Eating is how we feed and nurture physical bodies, but how does a woman feed all the other parts of being?
- Mental feeding is filling the brain with quality information and knowledge. A head full of useful knowledge can be a powerful tool for good in your life and the lives of those around you.
- Emotional feeding looks like being a safe place for others to come to share their feelings or look for comfort. If you feel like you want to share your ideas, hopes, and concerns without fear of disappointment or ridicule, you look for a person that will take care of those is a loving and nurturing way.
- Spiritual feeding has to do with the soul. Usually feeding the soul happens when you do things that touch your heart. Serving others, reading inspiring texts or scriptures, and beautiful music are just a few of the many great ways that souls can be fed.
Quality Education Nurtures Both Mind and Heart
When I say that nurturing educates, I’m not only talking about the information that is learned formally in school. Nurturing the mind is only one piece of a well-balanced education. Aristotle once said: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. “
Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.Aristotle
Learning, teaching and education involves:
- Life skills
- Coping skills
- Trade or career skills
- Cultural appreciation
- Social skills
The heart part of education has to do with the way those skills are accomplished. The heart has to learn to:
- live life with kindness and love for ourselves and others
- how to be thoughtful and creative
- have a strong determination to fight injustice and uphold principles of freedom and virtue.
A well-nurtured heart loves the beautiful and meaningful things of the world. As nurturing women, it is our job to teach those things to those around us.
What is the best method of educating?
Learning and teaching others how to live lovingly and passionately is the ultimate goal of good nurturing. But what is the best way to teach these things?
Teaching is most effective when it is done by example. You have to model the behavior you want to see. If I’m raising my voice, can I expect to get a response without a raised voice? If I’m not showing love, can I expect to be given love in return?
Hypocrisy between my behavior and the behavior I expect to see from others is a sure way to lose credibility and influence as a teacher.
Nurturing Leads To Growth
How do you know if something is being nurtured properly?
If you’re nurturing yourself, you feel confident, capable and happy. A popular term for nurturing yourself is “self-care“. Self-care is too often mistaken for being self-indulgent but that is so far from the truth. It’s making sure you’re doing the things that encourage your own personal growth.
Self-care is also a necessary part of being able to nurture others. If you don’t feel like you’re progressing in your own life, it’s hard to feel like you’re capable of nurturing others as well.
If you’re nurturing a relationship, especially your marriage, you feel a closeness to one another. In a marriage relationship, the two of you are able to work together with unity and love. You help each other improve both individually and as a couple.
If you’re nurturing children, you can see them grow in learning academics, behavior, independence and love. You’re recognizing their talents and the things that interest them and helping them nurture them. Well nurtured children are resilient, confident and joyful.
The 3 Questions I Use To Evaluate Nurturing
Now, when I self-evaluate how I’m doing as a nurturer, I ask myself 3 questions.
- Do my actions and my words feed and nourish those around me in positive ways?
- Have I taught others through words and by my example how to live a joyful and productive life?
- Are the things I am trying to nurture growing and becoming better?
Use the answers to these questions to make action plan.
The answers to these questions help me identify areas of my life that may need a little bit more of my nurturing attention.
Maybe I recognize that the words I’ve been using (and their volume) have not been as respectful and kind as they should be. In that case, I need to look into strategies to help me control myself and find other, more positive, words to use.
Maybe my relationship with my spouse feels a bit strained. So I need to look into how I can better nurture my relationship with him. Then we can work together more effectively and lovingly as a couple.
Maybe I’m spending too many days feeling burned out and realize that I’m not taking enough time to nurture myself every day.
The possibilities are endless.
I’m definitely not perfect when it comes to nurturing, but I’m doing my best to be better every day.
What does nurturing mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
More on nurturing:
- 7 Steps To Nurturing Your Inner Self from Huffington Post
- 8 Simple Ways To Nurture Your Most Important Relationships from Inc.
- 10 Ways To Nurture Your Child from Everyday Health