I was discussing the matter of bringing up children with a fellow Christian recently. This brother in Christ mentioned about the necessity of showing unconditional love towards our children.
This got me thinking about how we need to demonstrate to our children that they do not have to win our love. Through our actions they need to know that they are loved by us. We care for them regardless of whether they do well in their studies. In fact whether they behave well or not does not alter our fixed commitment to love them.
Now our love for them means that we will want them to develop well with respect for authority, willingness to work hard and be courteous. But they should never think that they have to do these things to win our love. I suggest there are three outcomes that can flow from being defective in this realm:
- The children are always acting in such a way as to get Mummy and Daddy to love them. They are then happy when they do well because they now know Mummy loves me but they are downcast when they do badly because now they know Mummy does not love me. This leads to great emotional instability there is a yo-yoing of emotions and general mental state which they take into adulthood.
- When children are seeking to earn the love of their parents some of them simply give up the struggle. They conclude that they are never going to be good enough to please Mum and Dad and so give up attempting to do so. Such children then give up bothering whether they please their parents or not and this can lead on to not bothering whether they please other people (particularly those in authority) or not. And all kinds of further consequences can ensue down the line when such youngsters become adults. Irresponsible, even criminal, behaviour becomes the norm because they continually self-assess that they will never please those in authority.
- Such an approach to parenting misrepresents our Father in heaven. He loves His children with unconditional love. His love is fixed upon us because of Christ; it does not waver according to our performance or our moods. He did not love us because of what we did, but because of what His Son did. Let us be careful then to properly represent our God to our children.
Finally, it is good verbally to tell our children that we love them. This is wholesome for them and helps give them find the the security in which they can prosper.