Most, if not all of us, would say we love our child. I certainly hope you do because love is what a child needs most. If you provide the kind of healthy love your child needs you will give him a foundation which will bless him his entire life. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, ” Is my kind of love healthy or unhealthy?”
What KIND of love does your child need? There is only one kind of real love, a healthy love. There is a kind of attachment that masquerades as love but it’s not real love. This is an unhealthy” love” that refuses to be tough when necessary and often seeks to meet the need of the parent.
This unhealthy “love” can be seen in all types of relationships; marriage, parent-child, child-parent, teacher-student, friendships, dating, etc. This unhealthy “love” can exist in almost every human interaction . Unhealthy love is marked by selfishness and lack of regard for what is in the best interest of the other person.
We can have caring feelings for our child, feel emotionally close to them but hurt them in the name of love. Yes, there are bad or unhealthy ways to “love” our child and the toll on them can be severe and long-term.
What is a healthy kind of love? Think a moment about something it is not.
Healthy love is not a feeling or emotion. There is no question that strong feelings are attached to love but love is much more than a feeling. Feelings can change quickly but love stays put. Feelings are the emotional response we have to an event or something a person does. Healthy love is disciplined to not be controlled by anger,fear or any other negative emotion.
Parents who rear their children by the kind or mood they’re in or the emotions their children evoke in them can do great damage to them. A child reared by such an emotionally immature parent must “walk on eggshells” so as to stay in their good graces. He cannot risk being himself and being real because his parent cannot handle it. Do you have a healthy or unhealthy kind of love for your child?
How can you really love someone without “knowing” them? If the ultimate goal of love is to do what is in their best interest, how can you love someone well without”knowing” them? You can have an attitude of acceptance and tolerance or an emotional connection with people which could be interpreted as love. However, loving someone as intimately as you should love your child is a different kind of love.
“Knowing” your child is vitally important to loving him well. How well do you know your child? While your child has similarities to his siblings or other children, in general, there is a real sense each child is unique. Knowledge of your child’s uniqueness is an important key in how you relate to him and how you provide loving discipline for him.
Children reared in the same home often experience that environment differently. This is true for various reasons such as personality differences, birth order, and your growth in being a good parent. The implication of all this is that you need to be a student of each child and not assume that when you have “figured out” what makes one child “tick” the others will be like him. Not so.
Discipline is an important area in which you need to know your children individually. Parents sometimes make the mistake of assuming one method, such as spanking, is the best solution for all their children and for all offences. The reality is that what may prove effective for one child doesn’t really work for another. Why? You know the answer. Your children are different.
If one of the purposes of parental discipline is to bring about self-discipline doesn’t it stand to reason that you need to consider what method reaches your child’s heart? Any method of discipline we use to correct or encourage our child’s behavior should pass two important tests. Does it show I know and love my child and will it, if used consistently, bring about the change I desire ?
How well do you really know your child? The answer to this question probably indicates the health of your love for him.
Sometimes love says “no.” It is our job to decide what is best for our child. This is one of the reasons God gave children parents ; because children aren’t equipped emotionally or intellectually to always make good choices. As parents we need to teach our child how to make choices and to weigh the consequences of those choices. This is why we must learn to say “no” at times. Your child won’t agree but sometimes saying “no” is more loving than saying “yes.”
Healthy love doesn’t always give a child what he wants. Children can be very fickle. The toy they couldn’t live without; the toy they ranted and scream for; the toy that would make them happy and stop the flood of tears is often abandoned for something else in a few days. They have no regard for how much it costs. Their concern is immediate satisfaction.
Why do we give in to this immaturity and nonsense? There are at least three reasons for such behavior on our part. First, we can’t stand to see our child so upset or unhappy with us. After all, our job is to make them happy, isn’t it. This is pure foolishness.
Second, we may give in to prove we are not a bad parent. Our child may have the unfortunate circumstance of divorced parents. This can give your child some leverage of playing one of you against the other. Don’t fall for this and let your child manipulate you into proving you’re as good a parent as your ex-spouse. By the way, children will try this where marriages are intact, also.
Third, we may want to give our child what he wants because we are confused. Confused about what? We are confused in our thinking that love means you get what you want. What if what you want is not really good for you? What if what you want is not in the best interest of others? Always giving a child what he wants can be a sure way of helping him to grow to be a narcissistic, self-centered and destructive human being.
Love is doing what is in the best long-term interest for your child. Think about it.
Loving your child in a healthy way is not such an easy thing to do. It is not that your child doesn’t need or deserve such love but healthy love requires a high degree of personal discipline and maturity. Good parenting can’t be done by lazy people. Undisciplined parents cannot raise disciplined children.
Unfortunately, some adults are incapable of healthy love because they are stuck in their own childhood needs. They have not grown up and cannot give a mature, grown-up kind of love. This is why I believe the first order of business for the parent after our commitment to God is to grow up. Parents who act like children cannot rear children in a healthy environment.
So, how do you know if your love for your child is a healthy love? I think of healthy love in this way: healthy love seeks to do what is in the ultimate best interest of the other person. I think you will find this definition consistent with the New Testament concept of love described in 1 Corinthians 13 and in other passages and with the teachings of Jesus.
One of the major implications of this definition is that you, the parent, must make judgments based on your understanding of what is best for your child. For example, over the course of his life, what values, skills and attitudes will best equip him for life? This is no small deal. Your choices may be contrary to the wishes or ideas of your parents, contemporary society, religious teachings or other influences. You decide.
This judgment is unavoidable. You may decide to be very proactive in helping guide your child’s life. Or, you may choose, by default, to pay little or no attention to this matter. That, too, is a choice; one which will leave your child in a “fog” about what is of ultimate value in life.
For the sake and well-being of your child, I hope you will make the healthy love choice.