If you’ve been reading my blog you know I’m the mother of five beautiful children! Each of them have their own personality, they are individuals as unique as each of my own fingerprints. I appreciate them for that, they bring so much joy to my life just by being themselves.
So today I want to talk about acceptance and love when it comes to our kids. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a lot of expectation, I think every parent has a lot of expectation attached to their kids, wishes and hopes and dreams we want to see them fulfill. Then she was born and she wasn’t like me at all, she didn’t meet any of my expectations, she exceeded them. She is her own person in every way and sometimes that clashes with who I am as a person but I realized something, she wasn’t born to fulfill my dreams, she was born to fulfill her own.
It’s not easy to come to that realization, upbringing, societal pressures, and our own selfish desires make it difficult not to project our own wants and needs on our children. However, what I always come back to, what I always want to instill in my kids, is they should have hopes and dreams of their own.
So I have some hard and true rules about unconditional love I try to live and raise my kids by:
- Love has absolutely no condition. Never, ever tell your kids “I love you but….” their self-esteem is in your hands and the way you love them is the way they learn to love themselves.
- Kids are not mini-yous. I know it’s really cute when people say “awwww he’s like a mini-me” because we want our kids to be a positive reflection of ourselves. The truth is, they aren’t mini-yous at all, they are individuals and living up to a standard of being like someone else is a lot of pressure for a kid.
- Don’t stereotype your children. The world and society at large really loves to place people into neat categories, whether it’s race, gender, or sexual orientation. We live in a world of labels and in many ways, I feel like that is harmful. This sets up an expectation that perhaps our kids can’t live up to. Throw away any preconceived notions you have about what boys and girls are supposed to be and don’t limit your kids, at all!
- Listen to them. The instinct we all have as parents is to guide and teach our children. We want them to grow healthy and strong but remember that our children have so much to teach us as well. Listen to them, respect that they have their own voices, by doing so you are teaching them to unafraid to speak up for themselves.
- Don’t judge them. Just like any human being on the planet, our kids will make mistakes. Instead of judging your kids on these mistakes, celebrate them, mistakes lead us to learn and grow as individuals. The world outside of home can be a scary place and it’s our job as parents to create a space that makes our kids feel safe. Safe to be themselves and sometimes make mistakes.
When you let go of any expectation around what your kids are supposed to be you will see them as who they truly are. Once you teach your kids that they can be whomever they want to be without condition or judgement from their parents, they will soar. The first lessons they have about self-esteem and love is through their parents. I said it in rule #1 and I can’t emphasize it enough – the way you love your children will be the way they love themselves.
The best gift we can give our kids is the courage to love and be themselves. You can set appropriate boundaries without limiting their individuality. You can provide discipline without removing love and as parents we need to work hard to do just that. Parenting is a tough job and there is no absolute way to do it. We all have our own unique parenting styles, as unique as the children we are raising.
These rules aren’t meant to dictate how you raise your kids, it’s my own rules around parenting and if you can take anything positive away from it then I am happy to share it with the world. I know there is so much more to it and I invite you to share your own rules for unconditional love and even some challenges you might have applying your rules to parenting in today’s day and age.