I just had the privilege of going to Israel, and together with my sister, we helped our mom move into a retirement community.
The experience was wonderful and the camaraderie with my sister made me feel so close to her. It also made me sad because of how far away we live from each other, and how much more time I would love to spend with her.
The experience led me to think about how all of us look at love towards our children and our siblings differently. Previous generations had the belief that the young must love the old, no matter what. It was love via “respect.”
My generation believes we must love our children, our siblings and our family, no matter what. Love doesn’t need to be earned over time, it’s earned biologically and isn’t conditional on liking one’s behavior. I have often loved people without liking their behavior.
I’m blessed that I truly love my children—no matter what—and I’m lucky that I get to be proud of them too.
The question is, when our children aren’t behaving the way we want them to, when they are outright disrespectful, and when they are acting in ways that we find objectionable, how then do we stop and remind ourselves that love isn’t conditional?
What are your thoughts?
I think the answer is, unconditional love doesn’t need to mean unconditional support. Many times, saying no and teaching our children consequences and discipline, without anger, is important. It’s all about setting healthy boundaries. We must set the example, and then act in ways we want our loved ones to.
Additionally, we need to remind ourselves that acting out of anger is selfish. When we are taking out our frustrations on our children, we are teaching them that they too can take their frustrations out on others.
Most importantly, we need to find ways that our children feel loved by us, so that they know it with certainty.
This week, let’s spend time making those we love feel it, see it, and know it.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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