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Overlook faults, practice patience

August 07, 2009|By LISA PREJEAN

A speaker I heard last weekend talked about his difficult childhood. When he was 3, his father died. As he grew up, his mother loved him conditionally. If he was good, she was adoring. If he was bad, she was distant.

Isn't that human nature? When someone is responsible, diligent, kind and caring, that person is easy to love. On the contrary, when someone is irresponsible, forgetful, selfish and unthoughtful, endearing thoughts may not come easily.

Yet if anyone should love unconditionally, a mother should.

A mother should be a child's biggest cheerleader, a child's confidant, a child's comforter, a child's counselor.

Home should be a haven where children can be themselves even when they have made mistakes.

Training needs to take place, but that training needs to be administered in love with a calm spirit and forgiving manner. There are enough people in a child's life who will be overly critical, excessively punitive and completely unforgiving.

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Mothers should guard against all of those responses.

As summer days tick away and school is about to begin, schedules will be fuller and tensions in the home will tend to increase. We all could use a reminder that our kids need our unconditional love, particularly at this time of year.

So what are the essential components of unconditional love?

Patience is so important when dealing with children. Often when they are instructed to do something, they start the task but then are distracted. Calmly bringing them back to their responsibility is not easy. In this instant world, we all want things done yesterday. Doesn't it seem that children are content with finishing the task tomorrow? We must not allow their immaturity to frustrate us. We might need to give the same instruction more than once, but that is part of the training process.

A little kindness will go a long way when dealing with children. They may not remember every word you say, but they will remember how you said it. After some conversations with my children, I have asked myself: Would I have spoken to one of my friends that way? If not, I need to apologize to my children. They deserve the same courtesy a friend deserves.

Children, even teens, need to feel protected. They may test the rules that have been put in place for them, but, deep down, they appreciate boundaries. I tell my kids they can make me the heavy whenever they have to say, "I'm not allowed to do that or go there or see that." I can take the heat when it's too much for them.

Children need goals, achievements to reach that will make them feel hopeful about the future. Many times, if a child is told he can do something, he will.

As parents, we should not concentrate solely on the outcome. We need to enjoy the process, because it is during those times relationships are built. Whether we're working in the backyard on a sports skill or quizzing a child for a test, we should make the time count by focusing on a child's reactions and comments.

n Perseverance is a quality we all need in order to give the best of ourselves to our children. They need to know that we will be there through thick and thin, encouraging them to get back on track when they've gone astray.

Unconditional love overlooks faults and imperfections and sees the best in a person. At the same time, it sees potential and continually points a child in that direction.

As parents, let us love our children unconditionally this year and see what they can achieve as a result.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com .

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