Three lessons of parental love

Use these three lessons to raise emotionally secure children.

While Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and a number of other crooners sang that love is a many splendoured thing, one can safely say that love is also a much misunderstood thing. No, really.

Take for example parents who, in the name of love for their children, allow their children to say and do all sorts of things because they, the parents, are too afraid to spoil their children’s “fun”.

Lesson 1: Love your children unconditionally

All children need and deserve to be loved unconditionally by their parents. That means you tell your children, “No matter what you say or do, I will always love you. I might not like what you say and do and I will tell you so, but I will always love you.”

Children must be loved no matter what, not for what they do or don’t do. They should not be loved more when they do well at school and less when they don’t.

Because a parent loves a child, that doesn’t give the child the right to do and say what they want to without being held accountable for their words and actions by their parents.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is thinking that, if they love their child, they must never attempt to correct inappropriate conduct. On the contrary, a child who is genuinely loved will have parents who want him/her to know what the best/most appropriate thing to do is.

Parents who love their children will teach them discipline, self control, love and respect for themselves and for others, and a host of other qualities and skills.

Children who grow up corrected but knowing they are loved no matter what, are very emotionally secure human beings who are not needy and do not get into all the wrong relationships because of their emotional insecurity and emotional neediness.

Lesson 2: Drop the baggage

Parenting is a robust activity that involves lots of emotional issues. Children are shameless in their attempts to emotionally blackmail their parents, withdraw their love and punish their parents for what they consider bad behaviour – when their parents don’t behave as they want them to.

Parents have to be careful not to allow themselves to carry emotional baggage because it soon becomes so heavy that something cracks. The trick, therefore, is to, once a robust interaction between a parent and child has taken place, drop the baggage. Consider the matter closed and don’t raise it again and again. We need to forgive our children for the childish errors they make. Be realistic. Is that silly thing they did really going to make a huge difference in the bigger picture?

So, forgive your child once you have reprimanded or corrected them and then speak to them afterwards in a way that shows you are no longer angry with them. One delightful response you get from children when you do that is that they really don’t know how to respond and you have the upper hand. They are expecting you to be upset for a long time so when you’re not, they’re really caught on the wrong foot.

Lesson 3: Influence, don’t control

Parents who love their children in an emotionally mature way, genuinely do not want to control their children. Why? We’ve all seen what happens to children who are controlled. When they’re out of their parents’ control, they go out of control. Those are the teens who, when they go on a holiday without their parents, end up blind drunk or, worse, pregnant.

When you influence instead of control your children, your influence goes with them wherever they go. And that’s when you can relax a little in the knowledge that your children will do the right and/or sensible thing.

Very few children who were raised in a loving but disciplined manner regret their upbringing …

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