David had a bad day. He got in trouble several times at school for not paying attention in class. Then he came home in a sour mood. He took it out on us by yelling at his little brother and talking back to me. Bad day or not, that kind of behavior isn’t acceptable. I sent him to him room to cool off.
After David had time to calm down, I went to talk to him, and soothe his bad day with a soft touch and warm hug. I crawled up in his bed where he was sitting. Tears were drying on his cheeks.
“I always get in trouble!”
“No you don’t. You’re a good kid. Once in a while you do something wrong. It happens. It’s hard growing up.”
“I just don’t want to get in trouble anymore!”
I took his face in my hands, looked in his eyes and said, “You know I love you, right? I love you now and always.”
“Yeah, except when I’m naughty.”
“You don’t love me when I’m bad.”
“Yes I do! I love you no matter what. I’m your mom. There’s nothing — nothing you could ever do to make me stop loving you. When you’re good, when you get in trouble, I love you. That’s it. I just love you.”
“You do? Even when I’m bad?”
We talked a little more. I hugged him, and we went out to the kitchen to eat dinner.
I was stunned.
I’m not the Mother of the Year, but I thought David was sure of my unconditional love.
I don’t abuse him. I meet his every need. I don’t call him names or scream vulgarities at him. Any discipline is always done out of love, and followed up with hugs and reassurance of that love.
I know I tell him I love him at least twice every day. Before he goes to school we pray together. We hug. I say, “I love you.” At night when I tuck him into bed the last thing I always say to him is, “Goodnight. I love you.”
Yet he believed when he misbehaved my love for him diminished or stopped for a time? He didn’t know my love was unconditional?
That was last Wednesday night. Then tragedy struck in Newtown, CT two days later. It rocked me to my core as it did so many of you. Those children… The parents… It makes me heartsick.
And I thought what if some terrible thing happened, and David left this world not knowing that I loved him deeply and without condition? What if he grew up without the security of knowing I would always love him no matter what?
My words and actions were right, yet David still wasn’t completely sure of my love.
Children have insecurities from time to time that are a result of young minds that don’t quite understand. They might imagine or infer something we didn’t intend. Or perhaps someone else says something that confuses or misleads them. Whatever the reason, we need to reassure them often of our unconditional love.
Unconditional love is so important for children. It’s what gives them the courage to grow, try new things, fail and try again. It’s what give them a sense of belonging and purpose.
After last week’s events it seems more urgent and necessary than ever to reassure our kids of our love.
Do your Children know you love them, 100 percent, no matter what, for always? Tell them today.