Walking the Tightrope of Unconditional Love
If you’re reading this, you almost certainly love your children unconditionally. In other words, there’s essentially nothing that your children could possibly do that would make you love them any less. This is fantastic though, because unconditional love is a cornerstone for raising happy, healthy, well-rounded children.
The Difference Between Unconditional Love & Influential Parenting
However, the fact of the matter is that many modern parents have taken the concept of “unconditional love” and turned it into “my child can do no wrong” or into “my child will never be disciplined,” which can be equally as damaging as not showing them unconditional love in the first place. In fact, according to this article, approaches such as this simply lead to children that are “lazy, disinterested, and out of control.”
In order to stop yourself from falling into this dangerous trap, when talking about unconditional love, a good way to look at it is that there’s a big different between what you feel and what you do. In other words, if your child does something wrong, you can feel unconditional love for them while disciplining them at the same time. In instances like these, your love is momentarily withheld, although it remains firmly in place, while showing your children that actions have consequences.
However, under no circumstances should love be used as “bait.” Your children don’t have the emotional maturity to understand that just because they’re in trouble doesn’t mean that you no longer love them. As such, after you’ve disciplined them, be sure to let them know that you love them.
Raising a Well-Balanced Child
To your child, you are their guiding light; their rock in the storm. They look to you to provide not just food, clothing, and shelter, but also to learn how to act in different circumstances. Because of this, let’s look at 4 primary methods you can use to show your children that you unconditionally love them.
1. Love yourself
An adult that cannot love themselves cannot provide it unconditionally to their children. As such, if you want to raise a well-balanced child, the first thing that you should do is look in the mirror. According to this article, “What your child needs is your full presence and appreciation, not perfection. Sometimes you'll make mistakes. Start by changing how you talk to yourself. Every time you notice self-criticism, remind yourself that your goal isn’t perfection. Your goal is loving yourself and others.”
2. Take care of yourself
When you first learn to love yourself just the way you are, a natural outcome is that you want to treat yourself kindly. Eat right, exercise, go inward (e.g. pray, meditate, etc.), and make sure that the other adult relationships in your life are healthy as well.
3. Love, not anger
Just because you love your child unconditionally, this doesn’t mean that you won’t become angry. After all, your child is “learning the ropes,” and there will be times when your anger is justified. However, anger is authoritative. It uses fear to overpower your children and to make them cower in submission. In other words, expressing anger toward your children is the adult version of a temper tantrum. Avoid it at all costs.
4. Practice makes perfect
What do professionals, regardless of what they do, all have in common? Self-discipline and practice. In other words, whether you’re looking to play in the NBA, become a physician, or to become the world’s greatest table tennis player, you have to commit time toward your goal, and learning to show your children unconditional love is no different.
Looking to Talk with a Professional About Showing Unconditional Love to Your Children?
If so, contact Advanced Family Medicine today at (425) 453-6838 in order to schedule your appointment!