Has anyone in your life ever loved you unconditionally? For most of us, the answer is likely no, but hopefully, for many, yes.
Unconditional love is loving a child, no matter what. There are no strings attached. There is nothing they have to do to earn our love. We should make it available for the taking. That kind of love can assure a child’s growth to his full and complete potential. If our children feel and know we value them for who they are, they have the self-worth and potential to take flight and soar. The closer we get to loving them in this special way, the more fulfilled they are.
This is acceptance and it means to neither condemn nor condone. To condemn is to criticize and disapprove. It is an attack or a slam. Conversely, to condone is to overlook, ignore, disregard or excuse. This means we simply acknowledge his reality even if it’s not ours. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if all parents could give this kind of acceptance to their children.
Some children do not feel loved. Does that mean their parents don’t love them? Not at all. I honestly have never encountered a parent that doesn’t love their child. This just means that they are not able to show their kids they love them in a way that is meaningful to them. If they don’t feel it, then we have to figure out other ways to convey our love.
So you might be asking how you convey this kind of love to them? If you know your children well, you know they feel our love in different ways. Some children are touchy-feely and thrive on our physical affection. On the other hand, some kids do not respond to that form of love. They might need it in the way of wrestling. It’s our job to take our cues from them and figure out the best way to meet their needs.
Some parents show love to their children by providing financially for their family and never, ever voice an “I Love You.” This parent might think that is enough, but to a child, it’s not. Or some parents might spend hours upon hours doing things for their child, but never spend any one-on-one time really connecting or being with them. Children need our undivided time.
When we value them and hold them in high regard, we communicate unconditional love to our children. This shows respect for their person. The obvious is to tell them how much we love them. Keep in mind though that our actions are much more powerful than our words. So, go ahead and tell them but demonstrate it.
Listening to their opinion, even if it’s different from ours sends a powerful message. Being available for them as they voice their thoughts and feelings and then being able to validate them sends a powerful message of their importance to us. “Wow, you seem to be learning a whole lot about religion. I can tell you’ve really been researching because you’re not sure you believe what Dad and I believe.” This just shows we get that they are getting older and able to think for themselves.
We should treat them politely and considerately. A good gauge is to ask yourself, would I speak to a friend this way? If the answer is no then don’t speak that way to your child either.
Remember, this way to love is hard to pull off all the time and for goodness’ sake, most of us can’t. But I’d like to suggest that it’s something you can strive for. We can train our brains and make even the smallest changes. Be intentional and diligent about practicing showing your kids the unconditional love you have for them. When our children have an opportunity to experience this kind of love from us, the parent-child relationship grows stronger and our kids tend to flourish.
“Nothing can replace the influence of unconditional love in the life of a child.”
– Mister Rogers