Every week I have the privilege of interacting with children and their families. It's amazing how much I can gather about a child's homelife just by observing their behavior and interaction with others.
Now, I'm not a parent, and definitely don't claim to be an expert or professional when it comes to raising children, but there's something very key that I've noticed when it comes to maintaining open, honest, and close relationships in families. It's something that seems so simple, yet is often misinterpreted or understood - it's unconditional love.
Perhaps I'm biased to unconditional love because I feel as though I grew up in a home where it was in abundance. To me it seemed like there was nothing I could do that would make my parents love me any less. And so, when I hit the age of becoming an adult, where many teens would keep secrets, conversation was open and honest with my parents. Now, there were times when my parents may have been disappointed, but it didn't change the fact that I was loved and accepted.
Unconditional love needs to be shown in the simplest of ways for trust to be built. For example, children need to know that they are loved regardless of their grades in school, their behavior, their looks - until they know that they are loved, the chances of them trusting an adult are very slim. If a child feels like they can't trust an adult with something as simple as a bad grade on a test, how will they ever trust an adult with a secret such as being abused, drinking or smoking, sex, pornography, relationships?
As adults we need to be certain that we are showing unconditional love to the children in our world. Unfortunately there are children who come from homes where unconditional love isn't found. It breaks my heart to think that there are children who have deep, dark secrets and no one to share them with. That's where I step in. Although I generally only spend a few hours a week with the children in my world, they know that I'm a safe place, that they are accepted and loved regardless of the week they've had. They are loved simply because of who they are, not what they do.
I see showing unconditional love in all ways, always, as being a crucial part in raising confident, secure, successful children.
Imagine how different our schools, churches, communities and cities could be if all children knew that they were loved unconditionally? Imagine how things would change if children knew that despite their current situation or circumstance that they're accepted?
My job is to let children know that there is at least one adult in their life who loves them and believes in their potential.