How many things are truly unconditional? It’s almost Christmas and we tell children that Santa will bring them presents if they are good. We put Elf on the shelf so that they know he is watching them for Santa. I know that some families play games with this toy but many people don’t.
Love is supposed to be unconditional but it often demands things from others or it’s removed when the child misbehaves—no matter how old he/she is. Christian doctrine teaches that God is love but one must say the “right prayer” to avoid going to “Hell.” I feel like true unconditional love is rare. I have seen both in my life and now it’s even more apparent with the pandemic. Love for our neighbors means doing everything we can to protect them from COVID-19 by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying home for Christmas with immediate family.
And children should have presents just because they are loved; not because they were good. The real St. Nick gave to the poor and helped the oppressed because he was kind and loving. He didn’t expect anything from them. Here’s a wonderful video on the history of Santa.
Have you ever just given something to someone without telling anyone or given something to a complete stranger who needs help? These have been the most rewarding experiences for me. This is loving people unconditionally.
I believe that respect is earned but love is not. Love, especially for children, should never ever be earned. This doesn’t mean that we have to be involved with toxic people. Love them by walking away from them.
I understand that some people have very high-needs children and it is really hard but they should love their children for who they are. Speaking from my own experience of being a very high-needs child as well as having a parent ask in a Facebook group about what to do to prevent damage from not being able to meet every single need, I believe that it is more important to explain to the child that we are trying our best and validate the child.
However, coming from an abusive, narcissistic home and struggling to come to terms with my own mother being narcissistic and and that she will never be able to be a good mom to me, what hurts is parents not talking about it in a healthy way. I have severe cerebral palsy and even my husband can’t meet every emotional need I have and sometimes he gets frustrated which is human but it triggers me. The difference is that he is truly trying and admits to his shortcomings. I do the same.
But with narcissistic parents, they don’t care and won’t admit that they are falling short. In these cases and other abusive situations, the love is not unconditional. I think as long as one has a good connection with his/her child and teaches healthy coping skills, the child may need help later on in life, but he/she shouldn’t have the same amount of pain and damage that us who were abused by our narcissistic parents have.
Accepting that one’s child is different than the parent is unconditional love. When this happens and children have very different personalities than the parents, the best thing that parents can do is accept it and support the children. Get involved with at least one activity that the child enjoys. And share each other’s interests with each other knowing that it’s ok to be so different. Yes, it is hard at times but the key is to validate and accept.
This Christmas, with so many people sick and dying from COVID-19, let’s remember the little Baby that came to Earth to try and teach us what unconditional love is. Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, please think about how you can make this world better by loving people instead of being selfish.
Have a peaceful Holiday season. We remember all who we lost this year. May 2021 eventually be a better year!
Emily Graham is from Mighty Moms. I hope you find this helpful.
Do you have a friend, sister, or relative who has been trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while pregnant? There’s no denying that pregnant women have dealt with many unexpected challenges during this pandemic. Whether your loved one is looking for helpful parenting resources like Disciplining With Gentle Firmness or guidance as she aims to protect her health (and her baby’s!) during this difficult time, these tips will allow you to give her the support she truly needs.
Has your loved one cancelled celebrations because of the pandemic? You can mark these milestones with virtual events!
Bring your friend’s baby shower online by planning a virtual shower with her — you can still celebrate while social distancing.
Has your loved one considered calling off her gender reveal party? Host it over video chat instead!
If your loved one wants maternity photos, help her stay on the safe side with suggestions for a DIY photo shoot.
Outlining a Birth Plan
Your loved one may be wondering whether or not she should plan for a hospital birth with the ongoing pandemic. These resources can help her decide.
Is your friend considering a home birth because of the pandemic? Research the pros and cons to see if it’s a smart choice for her.
Will your friend be heading to the hospital when the big day rolls around? Help her go over the precautions she should take to stay safe.
Remind your friend that no matter what she decides, her unconditional love for her child is what matters most.
Nothing will cheer up your loved one like a thoughtful gift. Check out these ideas to find the perfect present.
Put together a basic postpartum gift basket, which you can drop off at the hospital or your loved one’s home.
Before her due date, give your friend a cozy labor and delivery gown so she can stay comfortable during labor.
Cook up healthy meals for your loved one, which she can reheat when she’s too tired to cook after the baby arrives.
Pregnancy isn’t always smooth sailing, especially for mothers-to-be who are trying to avoid unnecessary risks during this pandemic. If you have a pregnant woman in your life, now is the time to lend a helping hand. She will definitely appreciate having someone to lean on!
Interested in learning about effective disciplinary methods that don’t involve spanking? Sign up for one-on-one parent coaching with author and parent coach Stephanie G. Cox today.
I haven’t been writing much lately due to my new trauma, so here’s a short post with thoughts about a recent meme from my meditation app Calm.
It is really sad some people don’t know how to truly love. I believe that we love unconditionally as infants and young children but how we are treated as children can literally rip this ability away and cause mental illness that will not allow us to continue to truly love unconditionally.This is so sad because they miss out on true love and end up hurting the people that they “love.”
I’m not pregnant and not adopting yet, but I have been thinking a lot about unconditional love and thought I would write this since it is almost Valentine’s Day and every child deserves true unconditional love.
Dear my precious child,
I wanted you since I was a child myself and you are a dream come true. I promise to try to never make you feel unwanted. If I do, please tell me and I will make it right!
I will always love you unconditionally! Nothing will ever change that! If you ever question my love for you, I will do everything I can to help you feel my love for you!
I know I am going to make a million mistakes while we work together to get through this life but I promise to always apologize to you and truly mean it!
I will teach you how to handle your big feelings and I will always do my best to validate your feelings. I will have my own feelings and may mess up by not remaining calm, but I will always apologize for yelling or saying anything that hurt you. I hope you will always feel safe enough to see share all your feelings with me.
Yes, you will have appropriate limits and boundaries that you won’t always like. I will do my best to be appropriately flexible with you. Sometimes I will have to hold firm in the limit but I will always listen to you. If you want to do something differently, I will be open to that.
Our relationship will be built on mutual respect and trust. I will always apologize if I disrespect you or break your trust in me. Of course, the same will go for you too.
I will allow you to have self-expression as long as it’s not hurting anyone. I may not be into something you are, but I will never put you down for being yourself. Be yourself!
I will never ever punish you by hitting/spanking you, time-out, taking away your stuff arbitrarily, or shaming you. I will apologize if I do. There will be natural consequences for you and I will help you understand them.
You’re always welcome! I will want to see you! You always come first!
I will never manipulate you for any reason.
My precious child, this is a cruel world sometimes. You’re heart will be broken and my heart will break every time yours does. I am here for you. You will know how loved you are by me, your dad, your Heavenly Father, and others. It’s ok to protect yourself from toxic people and relationships. But please don’t lose your loving, vulnerable heart. It’s worth it to love. I will help you through this.
I won’t be a perfect mom. Just know that you are my world and I will do everything I can to love you as you deserve. You’re a beautiful person. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Actually I emailed this to close family and friends over a month ago. He is now 6 months old and things are continuing to progress slowly but surely.
On July 11th we adopted the sweetest, craziest kitten ever. Ever since our sweet boy, YP, went Home, on top of other 2 major back to back losses, we’ve been in a dark place and trying to get out of it. I know very few people understand the depth and love we have for our kitties, but, for us, they are our kids.
After an almost adoption went terribly wrong last October, we had agreed that Patches, our 12-year-old female calico, would be our only kitty until the horrible day she crosses the rainbow bridge into Heaven. I grieved that loss of hope but accepted it until late this spring. Even Chip started talking about getting another kitty but was in absolutely no rush! And I mean no rush.
I respect my husband so I did my best to let it go. I stopped looking at shelters and told people not to send us kitties who needed homes…Until sometime in May when I started occasionally looking at shelters but Chip wouldn’t really look at anything, yet, he kept talking about getting a new kitty and what age Patches would be more likely to accept. We were quite concerned about Patches adjusting to a new kitty despite getting along great with YP except for after the vet she’d get mildly aggressive with him for a day or so until the vet smell subsided.
Well, as YP’s first anniversary of going Home approached (July 5, 2018), the desire for a new life started to grow to the point of desperation and I was confused, angry, and really hurting. Losing YP just absolutely devastated us like losing Sara, my first kitty did! But YP was special in the way he loved us. He was/is one of our soulmates. I thought I would eventually lose the desperate desire for a new kitty after we got through his first anniversary but it didn’t subside. It only got worse and Chip started talking about getting one in the fall. That confused me and even angered me. Grief is so hard and weird. So I started researching the different local animal shelters just for the heck of it.
I would look at kitties and think, “sorry, not for us.” THEN on June 28th I was looking at all the pictures of adoptable kittens and found this picture of Samoset and immediately started laughing at his nose and felt a HUGE connection. I tried to show Chip, but he barely looked at it and I emailed it to him asking him to pray about if God and YP might be sending him to us. Yes, I truly believe that there’s so much more going on in the spiritual world than we can even imagine, and I believe Sara and God sent us Patches because I didn’t want another girl kitty back then because I didn’t want to replace Sara in anyway but they didn’t give me a choice.
I tried to put him out of my head so hard but ended up asking the shelter if he was still available and he was. “Great! That was so stupid of me,” I thought with a few expletives. I prayed he would get a good home. I meditated to try to let go. But I couldn’t! I was in love with him.
Finally the Monday after YP’s first anniversary of going Home, I blurted out that I was in love! Chip said he’d think about it and finally actually really looked at the picture and he said maybe Thursday we can go see him and talk to them about helping Patches adjust. I cried but then I was worried about him being adopted before then, so later, I explained that this is a very bittersweet, emotional thing and we should not try to combine it with other errands. I got him to agree to go that Wednesday.
That day you would have thought I was having some major surgery or something. With my brain/emotional make up, I knew I could easily get my heart broken again and I was extremely anxious about Patches adjusting to him if he did choose us. I don’t believe in forcing cats to come home with you if there’s no connection. There was a very real possibility of him either not liking us (some kitties are afraid of me due to my wheelchair and involuntary movements because of my severe cerebral palsy.), already being adopted, or the staff not recommending this with Patches being an older cat (12).
So I had Chip talk about weird things to distract me from my anxiety. But then signs from loved ones in Heaven started occurring. Again, there’s so much more to the spiritual world than we can ever understand on Earth. First, we had music on and Chip’s mom’s favorite song, “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong played which I thought was weird and I acknowledged Mom2 in tears.
Then heading to the van to leave, I looked up and there was a heart shaped cloud in the sky. I asked Chip, “Is that a heart?” He agreed. A sign from God. Obviously, signs were happening but I didn’t know what they meant. I didn’t know if they were good or trying to comfort me. I now know it was both. Then we go by a bright red corvette. Grandpa!
We arrived at the shelter and I was having a little PTSD because it was the same shelter we adopted Patches and YP from, and flashbacks of YP confidently locking eyes with us and walking across the counter into our hearts and arms flooded my mind, so I kept focusing on my breathing to keep calm and telling myself that I was gonna have to accept whatever was going to happen. But my husband, who had to be dragged to the shelter, started acting goofy and excited. I was like what the heck is up with you.
Deep breath and in we go. They greeted us and said that we could go in the cat room and meet him but that they had been sick so the kitties were confined in their cages. I started to freak out a bit because I needed to get him out of the cage to make sure he wasn’t afraid of me and they said he could get out but not on the floor. Yay!
The second I found him and we made eye contact, for a split second, it was like I was looking at YP again. Samoset gave me that look of pure love and immediately started to come to the door to get to me/us. I cried. Unconditional love is major for me due to being abused throughout my childhood and rejected and hurt by people throughout my life.
He got on my table, did a nose kiss to my nose, and bit on my glasses. I cried again. He snuggled with Daddy too. Of course, he jumped on the floor before we could catch him but Chip apologized. He’s a fast little booger. We have so many nicknames for him already. So we told the staff about Patches and her mild aggression with YP after vet visits and that she is 12. They said it would take her longer to adjust to him but if we move slowly, she will eventually get there. One staff member told us about her experience with adopting one of the kitties and there was howling and fighting for over a month and she was afraid she was going to be one of the people who relinquished the animal after adoption, but she covered the crate and eventually it stopped and they are fine.
They still had our adoption applications from Patches and YP which is over 11 years old. They were so sorry about YP going Home. We filled out a new application for Samoset, known at the shelter as “Katio,” and they called Lakeside, our animal hospital where the vet is, for a reference and he was ours. Yes, I cried.
They wanted us to take him home that day which we thought he would have to go to the vet first like YP and Patches but that’s not the policy anymore since he was already neutered. We just had to get him to the vet within 7 days so if he had any life altering diseases, the shelter would cover the vet care for that.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a carrier nor any kitten supplies so we said that we could get him the next day. They were fine with that. We told him we would be back tomorrow but he looked sad watching us leave the kitty room. Patches looked like that as did YP leaving them. Animals have feelings and know more than we think they do. Just like children. We underestimate the innocent so much.
I had to shut my emotions off and just focus on him both that day and the next day because the room was full of kitties and even some in the lobby. Please adopt from shelters and spray/neuter your animals to help stop the overpopulation problem. Thankfully, there are more and more no kill shelters but healthy animals are killed just because there’s no room for them. I’m grateful all the shelters here are great about not killing animals and finding foster homes for them and making sure they are adopted.
I wish I could have adopted all of the kitties in there so I just acknowledged them and focused on my new baby!
On the way out to the van after adopting him but not bringing him home, a yellow butterfly fluttered at Chip’s hand. He almost waved it off until he saw it was a butterfly, YP’s sign from Heaven. More tears and a whirling mind with emotions and thinking what we needed to go get at Petco. On the way to Petco, the funeral home had a sign about the shelter needing food. Ok, we get it God.
It’s been wonderful having him here. We did the separation of kitties for quite a while then with a gate and now he’s out of the bathroom a lot of the time but he still goes in there to sleep at night and then when we cannot watch them. They’re slowly adjusting but we just had a little incident because he wanted to go to the top perch and Patches was in the second level and didn’t like his tail flicking in her face so he is getting fed in the bathroom and time to let them chill. They’ve had other incidents but he is out here almost all the time and they eat together. Gentle parenting works for kitties too.
Overall, he loves to snuggle, sleep in my arms, and play. He’s hilarious. Patches is coming around but I will be happy when alpha kitty is established. Plus, the age difference is harder for her to adjust but we’re respecting them so we’ll get there. He’s getting better at sleeping out here but still sleeps soundly in the bathroom so when he is pushing it, we know he is getting overtired.
He plays and runs and attacks us. He’s learning not to bite hard and limits. He’s smart but still a baby. Yes, gentle parenting works for kitties as we don’t believe in spanking/hitting animals either or even punishment. We just remove them while saying “No” firmly and redirecting him. Sometimes I bop them due to my spasms and even Chip has accidentally stepped on them and then we immediately comfort them and apologize. They just know more than we give them credit for.
Thankfully, he is afraid of outside and is being good about getting away from the door. He loves to run into other rooms like Patches does and YP used to but not outside. Yay. Kitties are safer and healthier indoors only.
I still get anxious about Patches as stress isn’t good for older kitties, and I still feel like leaving YP and Patches at the vet, even though they get excellent care at Lakeside, for over 2 weeks when my grandpa went Home could have gotten YP’s diseases going. I know, it’s probably unlikely, but it still haunts me so we won’t be leaving them for more than a week at a time. They’re our babies.
Before I end this, how did we pick the name Samoset? All my kitties are somehow connected to each other and I picked Patches after the name of Sara’s favorite toy which I had named Patches as a child as Sara ripped the eye off one of my pound puppies and my mom sewed a patch over its eye so I named Patches Patches. YP was named after a ham radio friend who encouraged us to adopt 2 kitties when we were ready after Sara went Home.
With Samoset, we watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving show and used to be goofy and give each other roles. Most years YP played Samoset so we decided that our next boy kitty would be named Samoset.
Samoset was an Abenaki sagamore and the first American Indian to make contact with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. — Wikipedia
I strongly believe that animals should be a part of every child’s life even if it’s a fish. Having a life to help care for teaches children responsibility and teamwork because the animal is a family member. It also helps teach children kindness and empathy as we help our children learn to respect the animal and treat it gently. Lastly, pets provide another source of love and support for the children as they can talk to the pet and love on them.
Anyway, that’s the story of our new wild man, sweet baby boy like YP. He’s a lot like YP so we know God and YP sent him. I’m so grateful for new life and experiencing happy firsts instead of sad firsts after 3 years of fresh grief. Please keep praying for them to co-exist more and more.
On January 27th I got my third tattoo which is of my beloved first kitty, Sara. It was the ten year anniversary of her going Home. I got Sara when I was about nine years old and lost her when I was 25 years old. This was the original tattoo that I had been wanting since soon after she went Home.
I made it through the tattoo with flying colors and took the same medications as I did with my last two tattoos in order to slow down my muscle spasms. See here and here about my first tattoo experiences. Again, my mom was so excited and proud of me. It’s funny how even though I am 35 years old, I still need my mom’s approval and acceptance! It truly means a lot to me!
I have been thinking a great deal about love and acceptance with everything going on in both my world and the world in general. My husband and I no longer attend church because we’ve never found one that the people totally accepted us. Some people have and we are still friends with them, but many people assume that I am mentally disabled and talk to me like I am a child, well actually, worse. They are often patronizing to me. It drives me crazy! Of course, as I said, there are some who can see past my disability, but many can’t even after telling them that I have a Master’s Degree.
So when my friend, Jackie Heim, posted the following on her Facebook page, I felt sad but could really relate.
“I read that between 80-90% of parents with special needs kids do not attend church. There is no source for my information, so I can’t verify this. But, I believe the number is high (for sure higher than it should be). I’ll take my son anywhere – the library, the mall, the beach, swimming, a museum, a park, the grocery store, Disney World – anywhere but church. I can handle the comments and looks from strangers. Not being able to talk and not understanding everything said to you is a frustrating disability. From Christians, the one group of people who I want support from as as special needs parent, I get judgmental comments. Burdens of expectation concerning my son’s behavior are thrown on my shoulders. And, always by people who are doing nothing to help me with this burden. I have experienced this ever since dealing with my first language delayed child over a decade ago. It hasn’t gone away. And, the third time around I am dealing with an even more severe delay. So, I just don’t go. It’s easier that way.”
The very people, the Church, who are supposed to love and accept you for who you are, don’t! They want children to be these perfectly obedient robots and if they’re not then you need to spank/hit them. They never stop to think that the children may have special needs or they never try to understand about child development. To be so judgmental to parents and children is so wrong and un-Christlike.
I see the world becoming worse and worse which the Bible tells us to expect. But what I have been struggling with for years is that I didn’t realize that it would be the Christians that are often leading the way to destruction. We’re supposed to be leading people to the Light. I just don’t see that happening.
I believe that this is due to church doctrine. Church doctrine often appears to be aligned with the Bible, but when you look deeper, you see how much it strays from the Bible. Jesus was constantly with sinners and making them feel loved and welcome. In fact, people would run to Jesus when He was in their town!
“When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured” (Mark 6:53-56, NASB).
It was always the self-righteous Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that scoffed, badgered, and ultimately crucified Jesus. Regular people just wanted to know more about Him and to understand Him.
Not long ago I posted on my Facebook personal page that I have recently found myself relating more to the tattoo culture than to the Christian culture. As strange as that may sound, it’s because the tattoo culture is so real, loving, and accepting! They are so Christlike and they don’t even know it. That is so scary and sad that a tattoo shop does what the Church ought to be doing.
We are born with a deep need for love and acceptance. Children absolutely crave it from their parents and never outgrow it. Jesus put us here to love and accept people in order to lead them to Him. There are a lot of people out there right now, young and old, of different races and ethnicities, and of different religions, and of all sexual orientations that are craving for love and acceptance! May we do our best to stop judging and begin loving and accepting the way Jesus does!
We’re just a couple of days from Christmas and once again Facebook is full of posts about threatening to take children’s Christmas presents away if they misbehave or pretend to burn them if the children misbehave.
Then there’s the horrible elf on the shelf meme that says that they didn’t have elf on the shelf but rather a belt hanging on a hook to make them behave.
Why must we use Christmas to manipulate and threaten children to behave? If you do Santa, fine. But please don’t seriously make children believe that they won’t get any presents from him if they are “bad.” There are many poor children who won’t get any presents. Let’s not teach children that they were “bad.”
I love this article about doing Santa in a way that encourages kindness and doesn’t have to disappoint them when they are older.
I strongly believe presents are given out of unconditional love, not because children “deserve” them. After all, Jesus gave us the unconditional gift of forgiveness and love and mercy and grace when *we* didn’t deserve it!
Our children are only young once. Let’s do our best to keep Christmas magical for them as well as use it as an opportunity to teach them about unconditional love, the Bible calls it “agape love,” kindness, and giving!
Note: This was originally written on November 22, 2016. I always have my husband edit my posts.
God is good! So many Christians believe that He punishes us when we sin. He definitely corrects us which isn’t pleasant, but He doesn’t spank, hurt, or smite us down or I really shouldn’t be here as I have been really sinning in my anger lately. Today is an example of God’s love.
We went grocery shopping today and got stuff for Thanksgiving. With everything we’ve been going through with grief, our cat being in the beginning stages of kidney disease, and other stresses, my husband asked me this morning if he could just make turkey and his mom’s amazing oyster dressing, and mashed potatoes because he just wasn’t into making the whole feast with sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Of course, I said that was fine because we’re both at our limits. Maybe Christmas we’ll have the whole feast. We’ll see.
So we get everything at the store and come to the van. My husband puts me in the van and I started freaking out. I cussed. My Sara ring, the ring he bought me on the first birthday without my beloved first kitty Sara, was GONE! I didn’t feel or hear it fall off. I was so upset and sick to my stomach. My husband looked ALL over. It was nowhere to be found.
On the way home, I had a meltdown. I yelled at God. I said some very hateful things, and called Him names I’m ashamed of. My angry outburst was not as intense as the other night when I said some even more horrible things to God due to fear and anger about the possibility of losing our cat after having lost my mother-in-law and my grandpa all in the same year, but still, it was very nasty and I felt Him being sad. But I was so angry that I didn’t care at the moment. I got defiant and said that I would just go buy a new ring. I just really let Him have it.
When we got home, my husband looked again for the ring. Gone. I felt sick. I couldn’t cry. I just felt sick. He called the store to let them know that I had lost my ring. But I had no hope. It’s gone.
After putting stuff away, he takes me to the bathroom. As he was getting me up, I saw the ring in my underwear. I couldn’t verbally get it out that my ring was in my underwear due to having to focus on standing and holding on to my husband. It fell out and I said, “my ring, my ring!” He thought I was talking about another ring.
So he gets me back in my wheelchair where he can understand me easier and I told him that it was my Sara ring. It was in my underwear and fell by my “potty chair.” He went in the bathroom, and sure enough, there was my Sara ring! We both thanked Jesus!
Then I got on my iPad and checked my messages and my tattoo artist asked if I wanted to get tattooed next week. She broke her ankle right before my appointment in October to get my memorial tattoo for my mother-in-law and couldn’t do it, so I have been waiting and praying for her. I was concerned that she might not be up to it until after Christmas. I had gotten my first tattoo in honor of my grandpa the day after my birthday, and I wanted both tattoos before the holidays to keep my grandpa and mother-in-law close to me as the holidays will be tough again this year. See here to read all about my first tattoo. I was going to ask next week to see what she thought, but I will be getting tattooed on Tuesday!! Yay! Thank You, Jesus.
Finally, I received a message from Safe Families, a local Christian organization that helps children and their families during crisis situations, and they said that want to see if they can figure out how to partner with me for parent coaching. Thank You, Jesus!
After being so awful to Him again, He blesses me and let’s us know that He is here! He forgives. And maybe He disciplines us in a manner that truly humbles us through blessing because I didn’t deserve any blessings at all!
And perhaps, we should be mindful of the way He disciplines and forgives us as we discipline our children. He definitely loves us no matter what and fathers us gently!
Just re-reading this brings me to tears. I don’t deserve His love.
But do Christians show agape love to others, especially their children? In my experience, they often do not. They insist on condemning others and punishing their children.
Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect. I struggle at times to love people how God wants me to do so. I get hurt, offended, and judgemental. Thankfully, God lovingly corrects me when I mess up. He loves me with agape love.
Sadly, most devotionals for children teach that they must be punished for their sins. So do the child-rearing books by popular “Christian child-rearing experts” such as James Dobson, Michael Pearl, Ted Tripp, and Roy Lessin.How is this teaching children about agape love that God has for them? Jesus took the punishment for all of our sins, including children!
Obviously, these Christian advocates of spanking do not understand God’s unconditional love for us. Due to adults’ sinful nature, we struggle with practicing agape love. Sometimes it is easier to condemn, spank/hit, yell, or ignore our children. But the Bible says:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1, NASB).
This means getting up at 2am to care for the baby instead of letting him/her cry-it-out.
This means redirecting our toddlers for the 20th time away from something we don’t want them to play with and telling them what they can do rather than yelling at them and/or smacking their hand because they won’t listen and we’re sick of redirecting them.
This means sitting on the floor while our young children have a meltdown over a limit we’ve set and validating their feelings over the limit that they don’t like.
Finally, parenting with agape love means taking the time to truly listen to our children so that they will want to come to us when they are in trouble.
Yes, we will make mistakes, but when we do, agape love allows us to be humble and apologize to our children.
I am well aware that some Christians will read this and say, “Spanking is a part of what the Bible says about loving our children.” If this is you, please read these posts. And check out this book by theologian Samuel Martin. It’s free!
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes exactly what agape love is.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (ESV).
There is nothing in the above verse that say spanking/hitting, using cry-it-out, or using other harsh punishment is a part of agape love. If anything, it points to gentle firmness as agape love.
It may not always be easy but by parenting with agape love, we can show children God’s true character and teach them how to love others unconditionally.