My Unschooling Book Series (19)
I’m always talking about unconditional love: Trust, Respect, and Love Unconditionally. I’ve written or told lots of stories showing how love works within a family. In each one, I’ve shared a thought or two about why unconditional love is so important. What I’d like to do today, is try and bring some of those thoughts together. I’m going to jot them down as I think of them. They’ll need editing if I’m going to include them in my book. They’ll also need expanding and illustrating with examples. I’m sure these thoughts are incomplete, but I’m going to share them anyway. Maybe you can add some of your own!
If we love unconditionally, we’ll accept our kids for who they are: unique people with their own talents and interests, quirks and failings.
If we believe our children’s talents and interests are integral parts of them, we will encourage them to use them. We will value what our children are interested in. We’ll let them learn about the things that are important to them. We’ll respect their choices.
If we love unconditionally, we won’t impose our own ideas on our children. They don’t have to be who we think they should be. They can be themselves. We won’t express disappointment with who our kids are. They’ll know that we value them just the way they are. We’ll also trust they’ll find their place in the world.
We’ll let our unconditionally loved children develop and grow and learn in their own time. They don’t have to fit into our timetable. We won’t compare them to other children.
Our kids can express their thoughts and ideas and opinions. We will listen and take them seriously. They don’t have to be just like us.
We won’t let other people’s opinions about our children affect how we treat them and feel about them. We’ll stand up for them and protect them. They don’t have to fulfil other people’s expectations.
When we love unconditionally, we love all the time regardless of what our kids do. We won’t withdraw our love as a way of controlling or influencing them. Our kids don’t have to please us. They don’t have to do things to keep us happy. We can’t use love to manipulate them.
We’ll keep on loving even when our kids make mistakes. We’ll love them regardless. They won’t think, “I got away with that. I’ll misbehave again because I know I’ll be forgiven.” Even though this sounds reasonable, it’s not what happens. When we fail and are forgiven, we want to become better people. I know this from experience. When I fail and my kids wrap their arms around me and say “Mum, it doesn’t matter. We love you!” I want to be the best mother in the world. I also want to make up for my mistake and put things right. Why should it be any different for kids? Some people say we shouldn’t reward bad behaviour with love. But love is necessary. It’s what gets our kids (and us) back on track again. Love is powerful. It can transform people.
And perhaps bad behaviour is a sign that our child has a need that isn’t being fulfilled. It doesn’t need punishing. It needs empathy and love.
Just because we love unconditionally and accept our kids for who they are, this doesn’t mean we don’t want them to grow in virtue and become better people. We still have to guide them and help them overcome their faults.
When kids are loved unconditionally, we become the most important people in their lives because of the strong bonds that are forged between us. They will love, trust and respect us and so look to us for guidance especially when they’re learning about right and wrong. They will want to do what we feel is right. They will develop an internal feeling of rightness. This will be their guide. If they do wrong, they’ll no longer feel right inside. This is why kids will choose to do what is right even when they don’t want to, even if it’s difficult. Of course, kids sometimes fail. They can choose to do wrong. But so can parents. (My children have described that feeling of internal rightness. Perhaps I should also include some of their thoughts.)
When children are loved unconditionally and accepted for who they are, they have no reason to be jealous of their siblings. There will be no reason for sibling rivalry. Siblings will have close bonds. They will appreciate each other as unique people with individual personalities and talents.
A family should be a group of imperfect people who love each other unconditionally. When we fail, we aren’t condemned or criticised by our family. Instead, everyone helps us get back on our feet. They acknowledge how hard life can be. They forgive us. They keep loving us.
Our family, where we are unconditionally loved, is our safe place, our refuge from the world. It’s where we try and fail and try again, love and forgive and become the people we are meant to be.
So unconditional love is essential if we want our children to develop their unique talents and skills which they will use to fulfil their missions in life. It’s also necessary if we want them to learn right from wrong and become virtuous people.
Unconditional love is an essential ingredient of unschooling.
So what do you think? Please share your thoughts!