There has been substantial research on the importance of caring in the nursing profession which has shone a light about the different perceptions of aspects of caring between nursing staff and their patients (see, for example, Essen & Sjoden 1995; Larsson et al. 1998). The findings indicate that those receiving the care value clear information and explanations, anticipating needs as well as facilitation, monitoring and following through more highly than issues such as comfort and accessibility. If we look at those findings and apply the same concept to parenting, partnering or friendships, I believe that we can make some serious adjustments in our everyday lives that will enhance our relationships.
Providing comfort and ‘being there’ are activities that we take for granted as caring. But this may be where the whole ‘quality time -v- quantity time‘ debate kicks in. This is not to say they are not important aspects parenting or relationships. However, I think we need to reorient our thinking about what these terms mean in the empowerment and growth of the other in our relationships.
Rather than just solving a problem for the other by offering a cushion, tucking in, patting or hugging when the other is feeling sad, providing comfort could actually facilitate the process of problem solving thinking in the other. This could mean altering our actions from providing or imposing solutions without consultation, to asking questions that lead the other to decide what they need to feel safe, happy or able to self-settle. This not only assists the other to bring their own awareness to their needs, but also communicates your care for their needs and your interest in their personal growth.