Should we accept children the way they are, regardless of their weaknesses, temperament and behaviours and love them unconditionally? Children, like adults need to feel secure and accepted especially when they are young. But is this detrimental for developing discipline, a balanced and supportive environment and teaching them to respect and consider others? Jo Frost is a British nanny and author of three books on childcare. She was the central figure of the reality television program Supernanny. Jo says: “To love your children enough is to know that as a mother you need to find that strength to change how you behave towards your children. They came into this world unconditionally and what they should be receiving from you is unconditional love back.” http://jofrost.com/jos-editorial/angy-mum?page=26 Alfie Kohn is author of the books “Unconditional Parenting” and “Punished by Rewards,” He explores parental love and whether it should be conditional or unconditional. He writes: “More than 50 years ago, the psychologist Carl Rogers suggested that simply loving our children wasn’t enough. We have to love them unconditionally, he said — for who they are, not for what they do. As a father, I know this is a tall order, but it becomes even more challenging now that so much of the advice we are given amounts to exactly the opposite.
In effect, we’re given tips in conditional parenting, which comes in two flavors: turn up the affection when they’re good, withhold affection when they’re not.”http://www.alfiekohn.org/up/index.html As a mother myself I think that firm but appropriate discipline and teaching especially respect for self and others, and providing a secure framework in which children can develop, is all part of the loving support and love you should give your child. Good ground rules provide the solid base for their success in life and interacting harmoniously with others. I don’t agree that unconditional love includes letting them get away with behaving like brats or taking actions which threaten their safety and others – also that is not fair to them - you need to teach them the basic rules to make life easier for themselves when they do get out there on their own. It can be tough as we all know. I was a fairly strict mum I suppose, but fair I hope: I always let my daughter have space to put her point or challenge me. Anyway she seems to have survived fairly successfully and happily. Several things stick in my memory, however One as follows: when my daughter was around 7 yrs old , she started having problems getting on with her peers. As an only child, she was pretty outgoing but very well behaved and grown up for her age but I could see this was creating a problem. Having been a shy introvert child myself, I wanted to do something to help so I decided to ease off a bit with the discipline and hey presto in a few months – she was back on track with her pals.
So sometimes we all know you need to play it by ear and there is no guarantee of success whatever you do –and after all parents do their best but they are only human too. And of course as you want to make your kids happy and love you, its very tempting to ‘let things go’; sometimes when perhaps you should say something to them they may not like. Past Government action hasn’t helped here either, appearing to undermine parents actions. I still think however that appropriate discipline and a secure framework are essential for children growing up and not at variance with giving them your unconditional love! Auriel Blanche – Creator of the Magic Sunglasses Programme developing Real Self Confidence for Kids
Photo by Damián Bakarcic of Flickr