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How Can Unconditional Love in Parenting Point to Jesus?

A camper and leader hugging

Jessica shares with us the greatest takeaway from her childhood is her belief that God loves her no matter what. Her parents convinced her that she could do absolutely nothing to make them love her any less. That fact sunk into the core of her being so she could know God’s love for her does not depend on behavior.

Scripture

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Reflect

When writing anything about parenting, I’m always grateful to first reflect on the gift of being raised by Mark and Julie Schmale. As an adult, I enjoy taking note of the many ways I understand God better due to how I was raised.

It is seldom difficult for me to believe God will always provide and that all things will work together for my good because my dad was a faithful provider (even when it was likely a lot tighter than I knew.) I also see and understand God’s gentleness and compassion for me because my mom was faithful to take time and care about even the smallest details of my life.

Here are a few ways to show God’s unconditional love to your kids:

  • Discipline. Hebrews 12 teaches us about God’s loving discipline. In it we learn that God disciplines those whom He loves. He does so “for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” The passage goes on to say that discipline may be painful for a little while, but that it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace. Loving our kids well and pushing them toward righteousness and peace will require discipline.
  • Distinguish the differences between personal preferences and moral choices. If the decisions our kids are making aren’t right or wrong, even though they differ from the choice we might have made, let’s release control and let them decide. Ask God for wisdom and choose these battles wisely. Outside of established ground rules, let’s allow our kids the freedom to choose what they prefer. This one can be difficult because we might see a less-than-favorable outcome they can’t foresee. Pray for self-control and choose not to argue over these things. Sometimes letting our kids fail is the very best way to love them. In this way, we’re actually training them to make good choices. In fact, it was in my failures my parents’ unchanging love shone brightest. 
  • Share how we’ve seen God’s unconditional love in our own life. I’m convinced the greatest way we can show God’s unconditional love to our kids is by revealing to them His unconditional love for us. How do we do this? By admitting when and how we’ve messed up (especially as it relates to our kids), confessing this to them and asking for their forgiveness. When our kids see that we are imperfect, yet walking confidently with a loving God, they will hopefully trust they can do the same.

God’s love for us is greater than we could ever reproduce or fathom. However, the way we love our kids just might be the closest earthly picture they ever get of how God loves them.

Camper Corner

  1. What does unconditional love mean?
  2. Who loves you no matter what?
  3. How can you show your friends and family love like Jesus’?

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