Friday, June 18, 2010

The real meaning of unconditional love!

Being a parent teaches us the real meaning of unconditional love. When our children misbehave, it's important that we let them know that we disapprove of their behavior but not of them as people. Loving parents all around the world struggle with not calling their kids "bad" when they get out of line and/or withholding love when the child is "naughty".

It's not easy to remain open-hearted when our children push our buttons. But as a child of loving parents who didn't know any other way of disciplining that focusing on making me earn their approval and their love I have made it my mission to support parents in learning how to discipline from the heart, respecting and keeping their children's dignity and self-confidence intact. It's simple but not easy!

Disclaimer: Remaining open and loving in the midst of our children's questionable behavior DOES NOT mean letting them do whatever they want, whenever they want in any way they want. What it does mean is that we set up rules and boundaries, having clear consequences and remaining cool and calm while enforcing them.

I had this interesting conversation with our daughter a couple of years ago, and it reflects my intention to let her know that she's worthy of our love, independent of what she does. What a gift to our children if we let them know that they get the best of us simply because they are our children!

My 8 year-old:What? No matter what I do, no matter how bad I am, you still love me and get good stuff anyway?

Me: That's my agreement with you. That's what you deserve.

My 8 year-old: You still love me even if I don't get as many points in jump rope as Mary? Or if I am not as good in spelling as Kimmy?

Me: That's exactly right!

My 8 year-old: Well that's kind of dumb... what difference does it make if do good or bad?

Me: Well, that's your choice. You get to decide if you are going to behave good or bad. But you also get to experience the consequences of what you do.

My 8 year-old: I don't like that.. what do I get for being good? Nothing?

Me: You are always good. You may choose not to behave appropriately. But you don't get anything more for behaving good. What does happen is that you end up having more freedom, more choices as you show more responsibility.

My 8 year-old: Hmmmmm... That's just weird.

Me: Yeap... I know. I know.

She walked away with a big smile on her face. I will never forget the look on her face. I know without any doubt that it is possible to guide our children, to educate them and to help them become what they are capable of being and at the same time, respect them as human beings. Again, it's very, very simple. But, boy oh boy, it sure is not easy!

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