As parents, we are called to love our children unconditionally.
It is easy to love our kids when they are well-behaved, or when they are in a pleasant mood and being the rays of sunshine in your day. But what happens when things go wrong?
What happens when the baby frustrates you by crying incessantly, or making a mess of the house?
What happens when your child refuses to follow your instructors or is outright rude and defiant?
Unconditional love means love regardless of circumstances, situations, behavior and emotions.
We, as parents, are called to love our children for all their good, and also through all their misses.
It also means we are called to love them even when we don't feel like it; even when we find it extremely difficult to express love.
We are limited in our capacities to love, even towards our own flesh and blood.
To love is to give, and before we can give, we need to first possess it.
So any time you feel your tank is running low, recharge yourself! Seek comfort from your husband, encouragement from your friend, or pray to lift your spirits.
Keep in mind, it all goes in a cycle: when your child feels loved, naturally they will express their love and affection for you, and have a greater tendency to behave positively, leading to you being in a positive mood, making it easy for you to love them.
But when you express anger or frustration at your child, your child experiences fear, anxiety or sadness, they may end up having a meltdown, throw a tantrum and behave defiantly to gain your attention; which may cause you even more frustration and feel less inclined to show affection towards them.
Break the cycle. A warm hug and kiss always melts the hardest of hearts. Even your own.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. - 1 Peter 4:8
Here are 3 daily practices to help with loving your child unconditionally.
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1. Daily special time with each child
All of us function on a tank of love.
Just like how a car won't be able to drive if the tank is low on petrol, we won't be able to function well if our tank is low on love.
Humans have an immense need to be loved and to love. We desire companionship and acceptance.
It is easy for us to notice that need in our children because they keep trying different means and ways to get our attention.
The truth is, many times, our children misbehave because they are just trying to seek parental attention.
We may not pay much attention to them when they are behaving well. But when they throw a tantrum, we most certainly would give them our attention and try to quash the temper tantrum.
One way to prevent temper tantrums is to carve out a daily special time for each child.
Every time we spend exclusive time with our children and give them our dedicated attention, we are filling up their tank of love.
They bask in our love and attention and this helps to build up their confidence and sense of self, knowing with a strong sense of assurance that they are well-loved by their parents.
The most important part of this 10 minutes of special time, is to give your child your 100% attention. This means, no phones, no emails and no distractions.
Be fully present with your child and for your child.
When we build a daily routine of 10 minutes of special time each day to spend with our children, we are filling up their tank of love every day.
This positive motion will not just help in parent-child bonding, it will also greatly reduce unnecessary meltdowns, and therefore, create more happiness in the family.
Naturally, happier kids are also much easier for us to love!
2. Daily time-out
This isn't the "time-out" that we give our children when they misbehave. This is a "time-out" for ourselves.
Our tank of love needs to be filled before we can pour out more love for our children.
In order for that to happen, we need to take a regular "time-out".
Unlike our kids who want exclusive time with us in order to fill their tank of love, we need some time away from them to recharge.
Include in your daily routine a time-out that lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes.
I completely understand how hard it is to have some quiet time to ourselves in a household full of kids. This is why we are only aiming for 10 to 15 minutes each day.
To be honest, sometimes, my time-out happens in the car. I put on my favorite tunes and I sing out loud along to the music. That totally recharges me. My mood becomes much lighter and I feel all ready to pour out my love and patience unto my children again.
Some of you might like to meditate or take a cat nap when the kids are in school. Some of us like to watch YouTube videos or soak in a hot tub while nursing a glass of wine.
The main idea is to find a simple activity that can be done in 10 to 15 minutes every day so that we can always have means of recharging ourselves to be better able to shower love upon our children.
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3. Daily couple time
At the end of a long day with the kids, I almost always look forward to time with my husband.
"Almost" because there are certain days when I feel so drained from the day's events that I just want to hit the sack after getting the kids to bed.
But I know how precious exclusive time with my husband is. The short periods of time that we have with each other when the kids are sleeping are exceptionally precious.
We try to catch up on the events of each other's day or just huddle up to watch Netflix.
Truth be told, couple time isn't exactly exciting for us ever since we had kids. Yet such times can be very therapeutic to our souls because what we really need is peace and quiet and each other's comforting presence, even when it is a silent one.
Spending daily couple time with your spouse is very essential in building up your tank of love.
If you and your spouse's relations are strained, it would most certainly affect your emotional health and ability to pour out sufficient love unto your children.
Besides, your husband is your partner in the journey of parenthood. Therefore, draw strength and love from each other so that both of you can pour out unconditional love upon your children!
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