A Love So Different
Showing unconditional love to our children does not mean that we accept or ignore bad behaviour.
We love our children. We also have expectations of our children–how they behave, how they should perform in school academically etc. Perhaps our hopes are above their abilities, or perhaps they need time to mature and develop in their capabilities. Yet, when our expectations are not met, we hold back a bit of our love, as a sort of ‘punishment’. Our children sense our conditional love, and this affects the relationship.
Most of us have experienced this type of love before. When we experience conditional love ourselves, perhaps even now from our spouse, we rebel against it. Since real love should be caring for the happiness of the other person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves, we reason that love should be unconditional. Unconditional love is liberating. We do not need to wear masks and pretend or struggle to be what we are not.
Showing unconditional love to our children does not mean that we accept or ignore bad behaviour. As parents we still have a duty to teach and to correct. But we differentiate between the person and his behaviours. Someone once said, “This is my child, he is this way, but he is mine.”
Do you recall times when you have been conditional in the way you show love and affection? How would you choose to behave the next time?
John Ooi is a father of six children. He writes regularly at It takes a Village to Raise a Child e-newsletter. Article is reproduced with permission.