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.