Parenting can be difficult! As we face daily stressors, it can be easy to unknowingly form bad habits that may effect your children in the future. One way to help your children develop into healthy, happy adults is making sure that your kids know that you love them unconditionally. Doing so can foster a loving environment where they can feel safe and secure as they grow.
To love unconditionally means to love someone for who they are, rather than for what they provide or achieve. As parents, unconditional love is based on accepting children regardless of whether they meet your expectations. In other words, children do not need to earn love through certain actions or behaviors. They can make mistakes or be difficult at times, and still be wholly loved and accepted. For instance, whether a child makes C’s and D’s in school, or gets first place in the science fair, parents love unconditionally by recognizing their child’s courage and dedication to participate rather than focusing on perceived failures or achievements.
Unconditional love is not to be confused with being permissive of negative behaviors. Instead, unconditional love calls for action to plan and enforce healthy boundaries through discipline rather than punishment. By establishing rules and age-appropriate consequences when children choose to disregard those rules, parents set the stage for children to develop decision-making skills based on desired consequences. Trusting and supporting our children despite occasional setbacks are ways to provide unconditional love.
Unconditional love is the basis of a child’s ability to develop healthy self-esteem. When children feel accepted, respected, and recognized by their parents or caregivers, their fears of criticism and rejection succumb to their courage to grow and thrive through all stages of life. As parents, we must be willing to grow alongside our children through flexibility and creativity in finding ways to connect with them. Setting positive examples and creating opportunities to have meaningful conversations with our children are ways that we can implement effective parenting strategies through which to show unconditional love.
Communicating effectively is an essential component in expressing unconditional love. The words that we use to guide a child’s behavior can make all the difference in encouraging them to be receptive to input and feedback. For instance, instead of asking, “Why are you so lazy?” when a child has not cleaned his/her room, try saying, “It looks like your room could use some tidying up.” While the former question directs criticism at a personal trait (laziness), the latter statement simply comments on an observation (untidy room) in an attempt to guide behavior.
When met with resistance, a change in approach may be necessary. While you may feel inclined to send your child away as a consequence, which may also convey rejection of him/her rather than the behavior, it may be more helpful to invite your child to spend time with you. In turn, this may help to encourage open communication and collaboration toward a reasonable compromise.
Parenthood is a privilege and worth every effort. Our children challenge us to look hard at ourselves and discover personal strengths that we may never have realized we possess, had they not come into our lives. We owe it to them to be attentive and intentional in adhering to consistent boundaries that build on mutual respect and appreciation. As parents, it is important to take the time to continually learn and grow as you attempt to be the best possible parent you can be. Children learn to thrive in a world where they receive unconditional love from their parents.
If you are facing challenges in parenthood and would like to speak with a counselor, contact us here or give Tx Harmony Counseling in The Woodlands a call at (832) 352-1600.