So you love your child unconditionally? Then let’s use this superpower to raise emotionally healthy kids! We all say we love our kids no matter what, but sometimes, our actions don’t quite match our words. We say and do things that we are not proud of and make our children feel that our love for them is conditional and it changes based on what they do and say.
Unconditional love is like the secret sauce of successful parenting. It means loving your children without any ifs, ands, or buts. It’s understanding that our little humans are far from perfect. Yes, they mess up, they goof around, and they do things that make you scratch your head. You are baffled at the decisions they make, and you want to protect them from making any mistakes. Of course, as parents, our instinct is to protect them, right? So we lecture, we set rules, we take away privileges and enforce consequences. But guess what? Sometimes, the best lessons come from falling flat on your face…by learning through your mistakes. Our kiddos need to make mistakes, our job is simply to be there to help them pick up the pieces…without judgment, without blaming and without taking our love away from them. Let them make mistakes! That’s how they build confidence, resilience, and independence—these are the foundational life skills that will serve them well throughout their life!
Now, let’s be clear…unconditional love doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to bad behavior and allowing your children to do as they please. No, unconditional love is about creating a safe and loving space for our kids to learn and grow through our guidance. If your child fears of your love being conditional, they will most likely try to hide their mistakes from you.. and do things on their own. The problem with that is that you will miss your opportunity to help them by sharing your wisdom and experience. If they cant come to you for guidance because they are more worried about hiding their mistakes from you, you will miss out on the great part of parenting which is to be there to help your child pick up the pieces and stand back up after they fall.
Let’s look at Dr. Mary Ainsworth’s work on attachment theory. Based on her findings, unconditional love is like the glue that holds parent-child bonds together. When we consistently respond to our children lovingly, they build a secure attachment with us. This sets them up for better social and emotional development down the road. And here’s the cool part—kids who grow up with this kind of love tend to rock at adulting. They have better relationships, fewer divorces, and they tend to lead with love when they are raising their own children.
Now, let’s talk about Dr. Alan Sroufe’s work which followed a group of children from infancy all the way to adulthood. The results? Those who got loads of love and support from their caregivers, even when they messed up, had fewer behavior issues in the long run. they develop an internalized sense of right and wrong…like as if they had an inner compass for self-control, self-discipline, and self-worth. These traits act as superhero capes against stress, anxiety, and depression. Our love and support are their superpowers, setting them up for success.
So, in a nutshell, embracing and showing unconditional love isn’t just something we say—it’s something we live. It’s the key to raising confident, resilient, and emotionally secure kids who can handle whatever curveballs life throws their way. Parenting is not about preventing mistakes from happening, it’s about being there for your children–despite the circumstances– to help them pick up the pieces and carry on. Rock on, parents!