We often hear that a mother’s love is unconditional, but what is unconditional love?
I think about parental love a lot, as you can imagine as a counsellor a lot of my time is spent talking about relationships. Love ones, ex ones, work ones, ones with friends, ones with kids, and ones with ourselves, but often what people really need to talk about are their relationships with their parents. About how they often felt like they had to change their behaviour or feelings in order to stay in loving contact with their parent.
Unconditional love is not a permanently warm and fuzzy place, it is not free from negative emotions like resentment or anger, from either the parent or the child. It is not trying to make sure your kids are happy at all costs, in fact, sometimes it’s the opposite. It’s witnessing children as they really are, in their own authentic place, feeling their own authentic feelings, and loving them anyway. It’s that balance of always accepting their feelings whilst also teaching them the behaviours they’ll need to live fulfilled and valued lives. It’s allowing them mistakes, without judgement, but not necessarily without consequence, ensuring that the consequence is never the removal of love.
It’s a tight-rope walk, and it’s really hard.
So, thank you to everyone out there offering unconditional love to a child this Mother’s Day. To the mums, the step-mums, the nanas, the aunties, the mum’s best friends, the teachers, the coaches, the leaders of community and youth groups, and those of you who have had to learn to show yourself this love, without the warmth of accepting adults in your young lives.