Parenting 101… Unconditional Love
I think that one of the most difficult roles we’ll ever have in this life is that of parent. We start out with hopes and dreams for our little ones that include all of the blessings this life can bring. However for some parents that all changes when the ‘Einstein’ that they gave birth to becomes the ‘Frankenstein’ they’re wrestling with today. I have seen parents who are in utter shock that their child has made choices they would never have thought they would make. This can happen at any age. It might be the strong willed child, the teen who is exercising their need to differentiate, or the adult who was ‘straight as an arrow’ and all of a sudden decides they’ve missed out on too much. While some of this is a natural and ‘normal’ process, it’s still difficult for the parent to process or know how to react.
How is a parent to respond when things start going off the rails? This very much depends on the age of the child and the situation they’re facing. With young children it’s important to maintain the boundaries and have reasonable consequences for their actions. For the teen it’s setting age appropriate boundaries while giving them just enough robe so they don’t hang themselves and for the adult it’s staying connected enough to support them when they need it, but allowing them to make their own choices even when you don’t agree.
No matter what the age of the child the parent is a foundational and important relationship. They continue to seek your approval no matter what the age, even if it doesn’t feel like they want it. In the end we’re all looking for the same thing…unconditional love and positive regard. Just like you they want to know that no matter what, the relationship will remain and you’ll continue to love them. It doesn’t mean you have to approve of everything they do, but can you love them in spite of it.
It sounds a lot easier than it is. But as your children grow and develop into the person they are meant to be, having that unconditional love and positive regard will be the anchor they need to feel safe and sure in this chaotic world.