Give The Best Gift of All This Year… Unconditional Love!

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ~Dr. Seuss

At first I was going to tie the idea of “Unconditional Love” to the “end of the world” (via the Mayan calendar) on Friday. But then Sandy Hook happened. And I realized that the end of the world had already happened for those families.

Is there anything they wish they could have changed about that last morning with their kids. Did they get mad because of a missing sock or spelling words that had gone unstudied. Did they wish they hadn’t nagged their child to hurry and up and get ready for the bus. Did they forget to give that last hug and kiss? These parents are probably looking back on that last morning and wishing they could just give a little more love. That’s all. The rest is unimportant.

So what’s the gift you should give your child (or spouse, parents, in-laws, co-workers) this year? The gift I’m thinking of wouldn’t cost you a dime. It’s UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! What is unconditional love? Unconditional Love is the greatest gift you can give your children or other loved ones this Christmas. It’s accepting a person, faults and accomplishments, no matter what they do. Pure and Simple.

If asked, I’m sure you’d say that you love your children and other family members unconditionally. That is, until they do something annoying or something you feel isn’t good for them.

What is conditional love? It’s love with conditions. It’s telling someone you love what you don’t like about them. Or it’s how you think they could live their life better. I see people giving conditional love everywhere, especially with children. I’ve done it myself. I’ve had it done to me. Remember when you were “good” as a child, you felt loved. If you were “bad”, that love disappeared. I can hear many parents say to themselves: “If only she had better grades. If only he were better at sports. If only she made more money. If only he kept a neater room.” If only, if only, if only. When a person is loved conditionally, he or she knows it. It gives a child or an adult a sense of unworthiness.

My great Aunt Erna gave me some advice to me before I got married: “to care more for happiness of the other person more than you care for yourself.” I thought to myself, “Now why can’t we care for ourselves and another person at the same time?” But over the years I’ve learned that when you really love someone, you do want more for them than for yourself. It’s Real Love. My mother always told me she’d love me no matter what I did. I remember one day asking her if she’d love me if I murdered someone. She said that she would. That conversation really stuck.

Unconditional love is understanding if the people we love make foolish mistakes or disappoint us, that we love them just as much anyway. This kind of love binds us together in ways we can’t imagine. It’s the love you want for yourself. And amazingly if you give that love, you often get the same love back.

Some people think that if you show unconditional love to your children that you’re not setting boundaries or limits anymore and that your children will walk right over you. Not so. Showing this love is simply a different way of talking. For instance, if your toddler is biting, you can say, “Biting is bad” not “You’re bad when you bite”. Or if your teenager is what you consider lazy, don’t say “You’re lazy!” but “I think you’d be much happier with a job and making money.” It’s all how you say it. This way will become a habit over time and you’ll notice a change with your children.

So here’s some advice for giving the gift of unconditional love, the gift that keeps giving all year-long!

1. Hold your tongue when you feel like criticizing, nagging or getting angry. Reevaluate if it’s worth mentioning and remember…it’s the behavior that’s bad not the child. Try to be unattached to the bad behavior and take the anger and emotion out.

2. Treasure your children (and the other people in your life). Don’t wait for a tragedy to realize how important they are in your life.

3. Another thing I like to do is find a picture of them as a baby or when they’re between 1-5 years old. I remember this perfect baby/child/person my child is. And I see that same person the next time I see them. You feel the same flow of unconditional love for your child that you did when he was a baby. And they feel your love come through.

4. Unconditional love does not spoil your child.

5. When I’m mad or disappointed in my children, I sometimes imagine that something has happened to them. This may sound gruesome but I imagine that they have cancer and their head has no hair or that they’re in a wheel chair. My eyes will always fill with tears. Then I’ll think about what I’m mad or worried about and decide it’s not so bad at all! That’s not so difficult to do since Sandy Hook happened.

6. Be excited for the plans your loved one is making. A friend mentioned to me that sometimes she has to “fake it til she makes it”. In other words be excited for whatever your child is into even or especially if you disapprove! Starting a band? Great! Building a tree house? Go for it! Making a life size T-Rex? How can I help?

7. Lastly, give the gift of unconditional love to strangers. Yes, strangers! When you open a door for someone or just pass by and smile, send out a thought of love. We’ve been doing it since Friday when the shooting at Sandy Hook happened. That’s the only good thing that comes out of a tragedy, the unconditional love and compassion that is sent into the lives of others. As Rachel Scott (the first victim of Columbine wrote in her journal before she died:

Unconditonal Love... pass it forward and start a chain reaction.

Unconditonal Love… pass it forward and start a chain reaction.

So this holiday season give the people you love unconditional love and even the people who don’t know. It’s the gift that will keep on giving for the rest of your family’s lives.

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20 Responses to Give The Best Gift of All This Year… Unconditional Love!

  1. Dan Garner says:

    Great post. Unconditional love takes strength – it hurts sometimes. It is easier to turn it off than feel pain sometimes so we take a shortcut and deprive ourselves of the full experience.

    I generally stay away from conventional media outlets, ( television, Associated Press, etc..) so I had not read Rachel Scott’s quote. Very touching.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Dan! I’m glad you liked Rachel Shott’s quote. Check out her family’s website at rachelscott.org.

    [Reply]

  2. Oh Betsy, it’s so true, we need to really appreciate the people in our lives… and not just approve of them when they’re behaving a certain way.

    I love your point #6, “be excited for the plans your loved one is making. Not all plans/projects/adventures will come to pass, but it can mean so much to a person just to know they’re loved and supported in what they’re doing.

    I totally agree regarding giving unconditional love to strangers. I think now more than ever, we need to focus on the good that’s out there – and there’s so much of it.

    Christine

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    So glad you enjoyed Christine!
    Yes, #6 has worked well with out teenagers who’s plans often change!! Thanks for the reminder to focus on the good out there. It’s one of the reasons I don’t watch much of the news.
    Thanks for your comment!!
    xoxo
    Betsy

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  3. Elle says:

    So true Betsy – it’s time for us all to stop focusing on the unimportant ‘stuff’ that seems to take up so much attention. We’re so outer distracted that we lose sight of the fact that all we all need is love.

    And her’s some from me :-)

    Love Elle
    xoxo

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thanks for the love Elle! And the thoughtful comment!
    xoxo
    Betsy

    [Reply]

  4. Vidya Sury says:

    When I think of Sandy Hook and other similar tragedies, I feel ashamed about the things we sometimes crib about.

    This is a good time to live as though we were to die tomorrow. And say our I love yous. You know, I used to get easily annoyed with Vidur during the times when things were hectic at home, and when it seemed like I had to pack in 48 hours worth of stuff into 24 hours. My Mom would keep telling me to relax and I would visibly calm down. When she passed away, I simply stopped complaining about things. Everything else seemed to pale in comparison to the loss we suffered. While I am not at all the type of person to display anger or get worked up, somehow, I became serene, and pledged never to get mad at petty stuff. What a big difference that has made!

    Life is too short not to love unconditionally. Touching post, Betsy. Love you!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Vidya!
    So glad you enjoyed!! I gave up complaining a long time ago and anger about 4 years ago. Not that I no longer feel either emotion coming to the surface. I just try not to talk about them out-loud. I just find other ways to express it.
    Thanks as always for your support and comments!
    xoxo
    Betsy

    [Reply]

  5. Absolutely Betsy!

    I feel so bad and sorry for all that those parents have undergone for their loss, and yes, their world came to an end the moment they lost their loved ones. At such times and even otherwise, thoughts about whether all that they wanted to do for their kids and weren’t able to do will come to their minds.

    I too have been guilty of conditional love, which I think most of us have, especially when our kid’s were younger because we tend to bribe them or make them do things on conditions laid. However, with time I’ve learnt that things never work that ways, and it is the unconditional love that’s really needed. It’s the greatest gift of all any parent can give to their child – to just love them for who and what they are.

    Thanks for sharing and reminding us about it. :)

    [Reply]

  6. Debbie says:

    Great post Betsy. This one does say a lot, . 4.Unconditional love does not spoil your child.

    Every person on this planet wants to be loved for who and what they are. When we have unconditional love we learn and grow as a person.

    You are right the way we use our words can make a big difference. I remember when one of my daughter at age of 6 came home from school with a pretty pencil. She thought it was so pretty. She told me the teacher had given it to her. I really did not belief her, but I just said, “That is great, but if the teacher had not given it to you and you just took it, that would be called stealing.” When we take something from someone without permission, we always need to take it back to them and tell them we are sorry we took it.” Than i said, “Thanks You are always nice when someone gives you something.”

    The next day she came home and let me know she took the pencil, but talked to her teacher and she said she could have it. With words I taught her right from wrong, but let her make the right choice.
    With uncondition love, you always have to show trust.

    Thanks Betsy and have a great day.
    Debbie

    [Reply]

  7. You always give such good advice in a loving way Betsy. Your point about treasuring your children and others really hit home for me after the recent tragedy at SandyHook.
    Thank you.

    [Reply]

  8. Hi Betsy,

    Love your post. Unconditional love does not, as you said, have to be without boundaries for behavior when they are young. You love them no matter what, but you guide them in the right direction.

    I love number 3. I too enjoy looking at pictures of my kids when they were young. You remember their innocence and realize how far they’ve come.

    I am also so sad for the families of Sandy Hook. What a tragedy. Hopefully with time they will be able to find some joy in their lives again.

    [Reply]

  9. JennyBean says:

    Betsy, as usual, you’re dead on… I’m just not sure about the strangers, but I’ll try because I know you’re wiser than I.

    Best wishes for a very happy new year filled with lots of love, travel, wine and cheese. xoxo, Jenny

    [Reply]

  10. Galen Pearl says:

    The importance of unconditional love is never more dramatically apparent than in the aftermath of such a tragedy in the season of Christmas. Thank you for this eloquent post.

    [Reply]

  11. J.D. Meier says:

    What a great free gift for the holidays.

    I’m always amazed at how our thoughts, intentions, and actions boomerang back at us, and how we get what we give, just like we give what we get.

    [Reply]

  12. I have just awarded you the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Check it out on my link http://musedone.com/2012/12/30/very-inspiring-blogger/ A well deserved congratulations! -Michelle (Mused)

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Michelle!
    I’ve just gotten back from a long holiday so I’ll over and check it out!!
    xoxo
    Betsy

    [Reply]

  13. Amy Bender says:

    Lovely post. I love that we can find some good coming out of such tragedy. I think in the wake of Sandy Hook, we’re all spending a little more time loving our children. I know after hearing about it, my first thought was what if that was my child? What were the last words I said? While I always send my daughters off with a squeeze and an “I love you,” there is often a lot of nagging to hurry or a scolding for forgetting something that comes before it. Sandy Hook has been a lesson in patience, tolerance, and unconditional love.

    I love your #7, too. It’s amazing how one small gesture that really takes very little time or energy from us can make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve been trying to do it lately with people who are getting on my nerves, too. Instead of fuming when someone cuts me off in traffic, gets in front of me in express check-out with a full cart of groceries or any one of a million small annoyances you run into going about your day, I try to remember to say a quiet blessing for the person irritating me. I hope it makes a difference in their lives b/c I know it has made a difference in mine.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thanks Amy!
    So glad you enjoyed!
    Yes, the small gesture is really important… sending someone love that you don’t know is strange at first. But it makes you feel so happy!
    Went over and discovered your blog today, too. Thanks for the comment here!

    [Reply]

  14. Pingback: Why Love is all That Matters Beyond 21.12.12 - Make It Happen

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