By Melissa Ford
What does it mean to really love your child?
Some parents think loving their child means pleasing him or her. I've discovered that pleasing has nothing to do with love and everything to do with fear. All too often (and I've done it, too), parents will please their child to avoid tantrums, withdrawal of love or hearing those stinging messages, "I hate you," "You're mean," or "You don't really love me!"
We've all tried to get along, let things slip, not rock the boat so our kids will love us, like us and want to spend time with us. We buy them things when we don't want to, we break rules, inconsistently enforce limits, or say "Yes" when we know the best response would be "No!"
Of course, we want harmonious relationships with our children, but at what cost?
The best way to love our children is not to please because we're afraid of an unhappy response. Truly loving your child requires setting limits (and following through), establishing rules (and sticking to them), motivating your child to fulfill her responsibilities even when she doesn't want to, and standing strong with love when your son pitches a fit or gives you the icy treatment.
The evidence that you love your child isn't whether your daughter likes you or your son agrees with your decisions. The real evidence is doing the hard part of parenting while continuing to love yourself, and your child, even when you fall out of favor.