Responsible Parenting-4: Provide Unconditional Love
As parents we often compare children among themselves and with others, primarily to highlight some shortcomings of our children. This hampers the growth of our child. We should actually provide unconditional love for best growth of our children. The concept is explained for the benefit of parents.
What is Unconditional Love?
Unconditional love means loving a person as God made him/her, irrespective of his/her behaviour. To understand the concept better, let us understand as to what is conditional love. It is the love provided based upon performance. For example- child is loved if he gets good marks, comes first, or in short meets the parents’ aspirations (which are formed in accordance with their social image).
Conditional Love Hampers Growth
Why conditional love affects a child’s growth adversely is because the child identifies that he is not loved the way God made him, but is dependent upon performance! Value lies not inside the child, but outside-that is in marks, keeping room clean, & so on. This creates insecurity & the child feels insecure and intrinsically inadequate. Temporary adequacy is attained through desired behaviour! This adversely affects self confidence.
Good upbringing should send the message to the child that he is fundamentally okay, the way God made him. This promotes natural growth of self confidence & consequent all round development. It implies neither being indulgent, nor harsh, but balanced in seeking long term interests of the child.
Let us take an example. You are a rich man & your son is playing cricket with a group of servants’ children & you are watching. Your son cheats in a way that he keeps batting while the other children keep bowling & fielding, (which they protest & do not want to play with your son). As indulgent parent you order the other children to continue playing & tell them that your son is not cheating. (You have become popular with your son in the short term, but you have encouraged him to become a selfish rogue in the future-harming his development). He knows that you will support his future similar acts as well! (Remember the “Dhritrashtra-Duryodhan” relationship of Mahabharat).
As a strict & fair person, more concerned about your reputation with the group of children, than the growth of your child, you get annoyed (because your son’s behaviour has embarrassed you). Your body language is no more communicating love. You publicly order your son that he is out & the other children should bat & he should ball & field. In this manner you may have done justice, but have adversely affected your relationship with the child. He will resent you & will not seek your advice & will avoid you.
As a mature parent you are concerned with the child’s growth & love him as well. You do not take this behaviour of his, to change your attitude towards him. You continue to love him, just the same. You call your son to you & tell him privately that he was out & he should play fair, without any public admonishment. Since your body language is (of unconditional love), and reasoning is fair, the child will not only listen to you, but your relationship would remain good, & the child’s growth positively promoted. He will also get the lesson that you are fair in dealings, & he will like to emulate you.
Unconditional love is vital for the growth of children. Please share this blog with your parents and friends. In the last blog in the series of “Responsible Parenting” we shall discuss the importance of involving children in domestic responsibilities.