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Being loved has got to be one of the most crucial needs of  all mankind.  Regardless of how healthy and wealthy we might be, if we are deprived of love, our life is likely to be miserable and even unbearable.

Raising Great KidsIn his highly respected audio series “The Psychology of Achievement”, Brian Tracy talks about a trial that was carried out in the late 1940′s where babies were divided into two groups.  The babies in the first group were cared for and loved.  The babies in the second group only had their physical needs met and were then put back in their cribs.  The trial had to be stopped, well before the planned end date, because the babies in the second group were literally withering away and dying.  It’s a terrifying story, but the message is powerful.  Babies need love to survive.

So what is Unconditional Love?

This is a phrase that gets used a lot these days.  But what does unconditional love mean? and how does it relate to Raising Great Kids?

I had a quick look in Wikipedia and here’s what it had to say:-

“Unconditional Love – is a term that means to love someone regardless of one’s actions or beliefs. It is a concept comparable to true love, a term which is more frequently used to describe love between lovers. By contrast, unconditional love is frequently used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships. It has also been used in a Christian context to describe the belief in God’s love for humankind through the forgiveness of Christ.”

I think the first sentence sums it up nicely.  Unconditional love means to love someone regardless of one’s actions or beliefs.

And how does that relate to Raising Great Kids?

How does loving someone, regardless of actions or beliefs, relate to raising great kids?  Well, it means we love our children, regardless of what they might do,  say or believe.  We might not like what our children are doing, but we still absolutely and unconditionally love them.  And I believe children need to know this is how we feel about them from the moment they are born until ‘forever’ – the loving doesn’t stop at any particular age.  Think about a Mom who’s son has done something terribly wrong and ended up in prison.  Do you think his Mom no longer loves him?  Of course not.  She loves him regardless, even though she may hate what he has done.

The danger of the withdrawing of love

I’m certain there is nothing more terrifying to a child than to have his or her parents withdraw, or threaten to withdraw their love.  In the audio series mentioned earlier, Brian Tracy talks about how some parents might manipulate their children to behave in a certain way by threatening to withdraw their love.  The reason many parents are tempted to use this type of manipulation is because it works!  Children are terrified to think that their Mommy and Daddy wont love them anymore, so they do what is being asked.  Unfortunately this type of manipulation can eventually lead to negative habit patterns in children because they think they are only worthy if they always do what their parents ask – and later in life this can lead to psychic trauma.

“I don’t love you anymore”

Has your child ever said this to you?  If they have it’s probably over some trivial thing (in your mind at least) like not buying them a 2 scoop ice-cream just before lunch, or stopping them doing some activity prior to them injuring themselves.  It might hurt a bit,  to hear your child say this, but ask yourself where they’ve learned it?  This could be a child’s attempt to use love withdrawal as emotional blackmail, just as their parents may have used it on them – or perhaps they are copying what they have seen on TV or read in books.  I’m sure the best solution here is for parents never to use love withdrawal on their children and instead reaffirm their  unconditional love.

Raising Great Kids - say I Love You Tell your kids you love them every day

I’m convinced that if children know they have parents or carers who truly love them they cope better in every day life throughout  their childhood.  I remember when my youngest son, about 6 or 7 at the time, was asked at school to write down why he was so special.  His answer was  beautiful and I’ll share it with you now.  He said “I’m special because my Mom tells me she loves me every day”.  And I do – and he is special.

There are no manuals for raising great kids, yet as parents I think the majority of us do a fabulous job.  It’s often a case of learning as we go.  We make mistakes along the way, but we learn from those mistakes and have the courage to say we are wrong or we are sorry when necessary.

What are your thoughts on unconditional love?  You can leave comments and suggestions below.

Thanks for reading Raising Great Kids Blog.

You might also enjoy reading:

Raising Great Kids – Children Sharing

Raising Great Kids – Letting Go

Jan Littlehales

11 Responses to “Raising Great Kids – Unconditional Love”

  1. Eileen says:

    Hi Jan,
    Really liked this article and a good reminder that love should not be used as a bartering point for good behaviour.

    I don’t always believe that children mirror what is said to them by their parents but sometimes by what else they see. e.g. a program on tv or a children’s book.
    I know when I read one of the Angelina Ballerina books to my daughter when she was younger she used the information in the book to throw here own little tantrum and trash her room. Something she had never done prior to reading that book and that is what Angelina Ballerina had done in the story.
    Now there is a topic for you…books and their influence on children. :-)
    I’m not a believer in reward and punishment and have raised my children using a guidance approach which has served me well. (mostly, except when they had to admit me to the mental ward that one time…:-) )

    Thanks for sharing. Eileen.
    .-= Eileen´s last blog ..Friendly Food book review =-.

  2. Lina Nguyen says:

    Hi Janet

    Wow, Janet, you’re a great mum!!!

    Unconditional love to me, just means loving someone NO MATTER WHAT. No matter that person thinks, or does, but no matter the circumstances or what happens in life. Sometimes a person stops loving another because they just grow apart, or because they face a challenge too big they can’t get past together. That doesn’t happen with unconditional love.

    Unconditional love is such a beautiful and perfect way to describe a mother’s love for her child. That’s why I have the biggest respect and admiration for the mothers in our families and communities.

    Great work Janet.


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  4. Thanks so much for your comments Lina and Eileen. You are right that children can mirror behaviour they read in books or see on the TV…definitely a topic for a future blog.

  5. Bev Langford says:

    Thanks Jan, very informative post.

    “I don’t love you anymore”… I think that is a tame comment. With 3 adolescents and 2 aged 11 at home we heard recently “I hate you … you suck…. I want you to die!” quickly followed by slamming of the door. The best we can do in this situation is not take it personally, give them some space and revisit it later.

    Thankfully we only have one of these types of “blow outs” about fortnightly, which I think is pretty good considering the raging hormones for 5 young people in our home.

    I agree with Eileen that children are often influenced by media and other outside sources.

    We personally experienced our youngest acting out like “Bart Simpson” for a few weeks. He can be influenced by children at school in his grade, mostly just silly things but it still takes time to explain to him that these types of silly comments and actions are not appropriate in certain settings. But I believe that there is a time for “silly kid stuff” and it’s part bonding with their friends and growing up.

    Thanks again for your effort with this article

  6. Thanks Bev for some great feedback. I too had to a Bart Simpson impersonator in the house for a while – and he played the part so well I had to stop myself from laughing half the time, even though the content wasn’t always appropriate. He’s 15 now and set on becoming an actor when he grows up – and if the Simpsons have had some influence on that decision, I’m certainly not complaining.

    Thanks again ladies, for all your wonderful comments.

  7. Mireille Lenoci says:

    It’s arduous to search out knowledgeable people on this matter, but you sound like you understand what you’re speaking about! Thanks

  8. Thank you Mireille – I appreciate your feedback.

  9. Adrian Treneary says:

    I was just reading thruogh your comments about unconditional love for a child. I am the father four children and love them all equally, and I know also unconditionally. The first two children are actually from my wifes first marrige and the last two are my biological kids. I could not know how to choose between them and so it is that it is possible to bring up and love unconditionally children that are not biologically conected, rather like a child that has been adopted. It is a little sad that one of the first two still has at times doubts at time as to wether I love him as my own, they were both terribly rejected by their origional father so i suppose it stands to reason in his mind that if his own father could do this then ultimatly I could, if nessesary. Do you know of a way I could relive him of this thought so he can enjoy having a father that loves him unconditionally? your comments would be apprieciated

  10. Hi Adrian,
    Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.
    It must be difficult for a child who has experienced rejection to then be open to love – and difficult for you as the ‘new’ father to know how to deal with the situation.
    It’s an old cliche, but I believe actions do speak louder than words, and if you just keep showing him how much you love and care for him he’ll hopefully start to open up and let you into his world. It might be a trust issue as well. Maybe he has to learn how to trust people again.
    I’m not an expert on these issues and if you are worried about your son maybe you could seek some professional help?
    You sound like a great Dad to me and I’m sure it will all work out.

  11. rachel says:

    Resonated with the “i stopped loving you” comment. I remember saying that as a child and it was pure manipulation!

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