1. Help our children to understand that we love them unconditionally.
Her father leaned back from the table. “Well, that was an ok meal,” he said, wiping his mouth with his napkin. “Yea, it was ok, but the peas were too small. Hopefully you’d do better the next time.” The daughter sighed. Another failure. Having a father who could not be pleased communicated conditional acceptance and love.
To this day this woman lives with fear of failure and a drive for the standard of perfection her father gave her. This places intolerable burdens on her and all around her. It also reinforces a negative view of herself because her father’s conditional love communicated inadequacy.
To love our children unconditionally means that we separate our love for them from our disapproval of their wrong actions. We personally told our children that no matter what they did, we would love them just the same. We refused to link our approval of them to their performance. Instead of responding to disobedience with, “You are a bad boy!” we learned to say, “You know, son, I love you very much, and will love you no matter what you do. And because I love you, I’m going to discipline you for the wrong thing you just did.”
When a child knows he or she is loved unconditionally, there is a strong incentive to please the parents. Because the child feels secure in his parents’ love, he has much less reason to “act up.” The child gains an innate sense of worth, especially bestowed by the father’s love. The child is also much more open to correction because he knows it does not concern his acceptance. Plus, we all make mistakes as parents; our children know this, and if we love them unconditionally, they will be much more willing to forgive us! And most importantly, unconditional love helps the child to understand the love of God that is not only unconditional, but contra-conditional, against all logic, yet full, rich, powerful and eternal.