Unconditional love cannot be mistaken with loving without concern nor can it be misconstrued with unconditional approval. On the contrary, unconditional love does mean unrestricted agreement.
Infants are easy to love. They are helpless, dependent and sweet. I’d hold my sons tenderly in order to nurse them, give them comfort or to simply enjoy their sweet little faces. When they howled at 2:00 a.m. to be fed, I’d jump out of my bed and scurry to their crib. When their diapers needed changing, I cleaned them up. I bathed them with tender loving care and cared for their every need. Loving and nurturing them was no problem at all. They needed me and depended completely on me for their very lives.
As they grew, so did their independence and their need for boundaries and discipline. They began to crawl and walk, babble and talk. They weaned themselves from breastfeeding and used their fingers to feed themselves “real” food. They left their diapers behind and exchanged them for a potty and underwear. They learned how to pull on a pair of pants, wiggle their little bodies into a shirt and their feet into shoes. No longer needing a 2:00 a.m. feeding, they slept through the night. They learned to understand what the word no meant as well as what earned them a time out. Still, I loved them unconditionally.
Then came their tween years. They were mostly independent, but needed boundaries, consistent consequences and accountability. They learned to cook, do their own laundry, drive a car and hired themselves out to the neighbors for odd jobs. They learned that telling the truth was non-negotiable, being on time for dinner was important and dependability was rewarded. But I still loved them unconditionally.
By their teen years my love for them was still unconditional, but they still tested it. They knew there were things that I would never approve of, but they did them anyway; staying out past curfew, skipping school, speeding and attending parties that served alcohol. And when they got caught, they suffered the natural consequences. But I still loved them unconditionally.
Unconditional love does not have to approve of every human behavior. Who values rudeness, inconsideration, lying, selfishness, disrespect, slothfulness, or unreliability? Who cherishes those who gossip, steal, or become violent?
Why bother considering unconditional love? Unconditional love is not the kind of love that turns a deaf ear or a blind eye. Unconditional love is the kind of love that holds firm to doing what is right and then waits for others to catch on.