Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not talking about unconditional love. You know, the kind parents have for their children; or the love they’re supposed to have for their children.
The unconditional love we have for family, whether we agree with them or not, is what family has for one another. Or it’s what we’re supposed to have.
It’s not always easy. I daresay there are a lot of people who say they love their family, but they don’t like them. They don’t like their political or social views. They don’t like something they’ve said or done in the past.
But most often, if someone asks about that family member they’ll say they love them, but they don’t really see them any more because they’ve had a “falling out” and they’re waiting for the other side to apologize. Which isn’t likely.
But then there are other times when family members decide they want nothing to do with other family members, simply because they won’t do what they want them to do. And because of that, they cut them off, refuse to see them or talk to them, because they won’t do what they want.
We’re talking adults here, not children. And we’re talking especially about parents and their children. Parents who try to control their children long after they’re grown, many times with children of their own, simply because they want them to do what they want, in return for their version of love.
That is not love. That’s control. And it does nothing but destroy family relationships. Parents insisting that their children, or grandchildren for that matter, do what they say or else, instills feelings of abandonment, resentment, loss of self esteem, or the inability to form lasting relationships with others.
Why should they care about others, or why should others care about them, because if they do something wrong, something the other person doesn’t like, then that person or persons will discard them like a useless pile of trash.
That is what we call conditional love. “I love you as long as you go by my rules; if you don’t, then I don’t want you.”
And that is so far from love, I don’t even have words to describe it.
I’ve seen it in a number of natural or dating relationships in which one person attempts to force the other to do what they want, regardless of their partner’s feelings. That’s bad, and it’s a form of emotional abuse. Which no one should ever have to put up with.
But what about when it’s a parent or grandparent who acts that way to their children or grandchildren? That even worse. Parents and grandparents are supposed to love their children and grandchildren whether they agree with their decisions or not. They can give advice to those who are older, but making their love or acceptance contingent on doing certain things isn’t love.
It’s control, or conditional love, which can be taken away as quickly as it’s given. And it’s not healthy for either side of the spectrum.
I’ve seen this far too often in family relationships. And almost always it results in broken families, broken relationships, and children, cousins, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren being estranged or emotionally damaged because of no fault of their own.
Parents, grandparents, and other family members, this message is for you. If you’re doing this, stop
It. Look at it from the other point of view. How would you like to be treated that way? Or even more, if you were treated that way, how did it make you feel?
And if you are honest with yourself in admitting such actions made you feel bad about yourself, why are you doing this same thing to people you’re supposed to love? Why are you continuing the cycle of emotional abuse?
Conditional love isn’t love. It’s control; a way of making you feel important by making others feel unimportant. And it gets you nowhere.
Parents, love your children. Treat them with respect and love. Guide them but teach them to make their own decisions. So they’ll be able to teach their children the same things.
Unconditional love is the key to those relationships. You cannot put a price tag on love.
It’s not conditional.