A few months ago I read a thing on parenting.  The writer said that people shouldn’t tell their children “I love you”, they should tell them “I love the way you drew that picture of an elephant.” or something like that.    The theory was something along the lines of giving them specifics, but honestly, it’s been at least two months and millions of read words ago, so don’t hold me to that.  But it was something along those lines.

And yes, that thing has been in my mind, albeit the back, since I read it.  Yes.  I overthink things.  I know.  Yes.  Sometimes I wish I could shut off the switch that makes me overthink things and question every single sentence and word choice.  But that’s why I blog, so I can express the myriad thoughts that run around my brain every minute of every day.

But anyway.

I don’t think love should be conditional and/or specific.  I think it’s OK to just love someone.

Now, that being said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying to your kid,  “I love the way you get home from school, take a ten minute break, and then start your homework.”  to say to your Husband “I love the way you take the dog out on the last walk of the evening because you know I hate that 10pm walk.”  There is nothing wrong with telling the people you love why you love them. (and conversely, to nicely say, it drives me crazy when you leave wet towels on the bed)

So, here’s my point:  even if my daughter didn’t start her homework early, or my husband didn’t do the late walk, I would still love them.  My love is not conditional upon them doing those tasks.  I am still going to say I love you to them even if they don’t do them.  (though- leave enough wet towels on the bed and I might not say it too often…..)

Do you want to put conditions on love?

Do you want your someone to think that if they stop doing “X” or “Y”, you will not love them anymore?

Do you want people to put conditions on why they love you?

Do you want to constantly worry that if you stop doing something, they won’t love you anymore?

I know I don’t.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you should ever take love for granted.  Or leave wet towels on the bed.  It’s nice to be kind to those in your life, and do things they appreciate.  It’s nice to be thankful of all the little things that they do to make your life easier/better.  But that’s just kindness.  Love and kindness should not be mutually exclusive- they should be present at the same time.

Tell the people you love that you love them.   Just say “I Love You”.   I tell my daughter that every day as she leaves for school.  I want her to hear those words before she starts her day, because sometimes life sucks, and you need to know that someone is in your corner.

Tell them why you love them.  Just because it will make them feel good.

Tell them you love them even thought they leave wet towels on the bed.

57 thoughts on “What Are the Conditions

  1. I agree with both. I think it’s important to say “I love you” often and to also back it up with positive statements, especially with kids. They need it. I think it makes them more confident and positive people. I don’t think it’s necessary to say “I love you because you do x”, but more like “I love you no matter what.”

    This is a great post and I’m going to make it a point to do this with every member of my household today and everyday. ❤🤗

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, exactly my thoughts. This was a huge issue for my grandfather when my grandmother passed and something I learned young. He felt that he didn’t tell her enough how much he loved her every day. It killed me and even after that, I learned again after my friend was shot seven times that I didn’t tell her enough how important she was to me. Time is never guaranteed. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Did you wake up this morning to wet towels on the bed? Funny… somethings just make some of us go crazy and still love unconditionally! I think it is important to tell people you love them and not put conditions on it or to quantify it in some material or abstract way. But, however anyone states their love for someone is better than never saying it at all.
    I love the fact that you share your blog with all of us. It makes me laugh, and smile and wonder about wet towels. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Funny, my daughter recently rang me to talk about parenting styles (my granddaughter just turned 8 months). A number of people in her circle are encouraging her to “train” her baby by not immediately responding to her cries or needs. She wanted to know what I thought. Poor darling wasn’t expecting me to reply with the heavy-weight tomes of Attachment Psychologist John Bowlby! I precised it for her, told her to trust her instincts and keep doing what felt right, ‘cos my granddaughter is not just an absolute joy, but positively oozes securely-bonded confidence.

    But – ahem – back to your *actual* point. Yup, love is unconditional. Otherwise why would the mothers of serial killers continue to love them? Praising and thanking someone for their actions and behaviour is really important, but love just is – the only exception being when it isn’t present.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. What would be the point of making statements like that more specific? It comes of sounding like ‘I love that you do this thing which probably makes my life easier’, not ‘I love you’, and that is not the point of love.

    Who comes up with these things?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. …. and because life sucks sometimes, “I love you” may be the last thing someone hears from a loved one. Tomorrow isn’t promised — don’t withhold “I love you”‘s until it’s too late.

    Kinda maudlin for a Friday, but hey, it’s the truth! I’m gonna tell people I love them until my last breath.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I agree with your post 100%. The love is unconditional. And boy have we had a week in my family where it had to be unconditional 😄
    I like saying things such as I like your drawing because you used the red and orange colours nicely together. But when it comes to the love, well it just is… not strings attached.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “I may not say it but I love you”coming from my mom(with her back turned to me)was the closest I ever heard I love you. I felt like I was a mistake or not good enough. I tell my son &my husband every chance I get. That writer is crazy.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Although I’m not sure I’d go so far as say “love is unconditional” (there are lines, if crossed, that I would probably have to re-think my love for someone), but I absolutely agree with the need for both types of declarations of love. One seems more person-focused, while the other is more focused on the actions of the person.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. With all of the stuff I’ve dealt with over the last couple of years with both family and one of my own children, I can say that, while technically accurate because I do still love those people, the love is definitely conditional. Actions and behaviors can erode what love there is and damage it beyond repair to the point that it no longer looks or feels the same as any other kind of love. Most people do not realize they have lines until they are being tested. Most have lines in such extremes that they are never even breathed across or considered as a possibility when life doesn’t approach them.

    That said, I tell the people in my life that I love them. All the time and every single day. It is important to hear it without caveats. I do both, though. I’ll say that I love that they did this thing, because it was amazing. I also just say “I love you”. I also show them with my actions that I love them. That way they see that what I’m saying is not just words that are thrown out there because it is just what you do. They see that they have meaning and all the many ways and reasons why I love them.

    As someone who has experienced toxic levels of love, I need the words and the show more than some because I have heard the words from people that only ever show all the ways that love is very shallow with the opposite of extreme lines and that it is so very easily broken. So, with my kids and my family, I try very hard to ensure that they never have a single doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love was conditional and specific in my childhood. I’m not like that as an adult, but I understand the “logic” behind this thinking. Am I better or worse off because of what my parents did… who knows?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. sometimes it is a gift to think simply, I say I love you to my husband many times but sometimes I do it out of guilt that I forgot something or feel like I haven’t done enough. Ironically, I have done that in the past because of the same reasons. Words are words until actions prove otherwise. People do like hearing “I love you.”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I tell my children all the time that I love them too and probably because I never really heard the words ever off my parents, although I know they do.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. All of the above… I always wish my mom would just simply tell me she loved me but you know what I wanted even more? I wanted to know that she LIKED me – that she liked who I was as a human being and was proud of me despite my imperfections. Lots of people can use the term love and not necessarily know what that means but to say you like someone to me is more of a choice and therefore even more beautiful in many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes I agree that “I love You” need not be suffixed by the reason. But when we say something negative, then it has to be suffixed by the specifics. LIke I get angry with you when you leave the wet towels on the bed. ( and this is one thing that so many of us can relate to ) . Especially with close family, the specifics are so important when we say something negative.
    Love in unconditional after all and the only thing that actually matters is how we are feeling from within. The same wet towel can bring out different reactions from us on different days.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Perhaps I’m being overly simplistic, but it seems to me that “I love you” should be unqualified. It has nothing to do with how well we do or don’t do something. Far better to qualify the remark when we are saying “I don’t like it when you do ( )” Because that makes it clear that it is the behavior that bothers us, and the the essence of the person.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are never over simplistic, because you are always right in point. You love because you do, not cause they “do” something. I think I would love my daughter no matter what…..and you’re right…it’s ok to not like a particular behavior….but it doesn’t take away from the person

      Liked by 2 people

  16. I’ve been away from your blog for too long. Miss reading your stuff as it’s always thought provoking.

    I wonder though if you’re maybe conflating two or three different articles? I have not read anything about not saying “I love you” to your children. I completely agree love between a parent and a child is meant to be unconditional. Most parenting articles I read about young children’s behaviour emphasise making sure that your kids know you love them when they’re happy but also when they’re upset, or angry, or even not behaving. The idea seems to be to emphasise that you’re not happy with the child’s *behaviour* not with them.

    However, being very specific with praise the way you describe comes from a completely different aspect of parenting – education. There are two aspects here: a child’s mindset which determines how they approach learning, and the role of praise.

    Look up articles on “fixed mindset versus growth mindset” and you’ll see similar phrases on “I love how hard you worked on….” The idea, and this had been noticed in many educational studies, is that you want to praise children for their *effort* not for their *result* or for any perceived innate talent. Studies show that children who are praised for “being smart” become anxious about being perceived to be less smart if they don’t continue to do well, so they will purposefully avoid choosing more challenging tasks or classes and select easier options where they are more likely to continue getting high marks and praise. However kids who are praised for their hard work or effort are more likely to challenge themselves and are therefore more likely to succeed academically because they’re more focused on effort than result. They’re less likely to be put off from taking a more advanced class because of the possibility of lower grades.

    In connection with that, especially in methods like Montessori for younger children, there’s a philosophy that while praise isn’t inherently bad, too much general praise can be harmful because it doesn’t translate to kids trying to do better the way an adult thinks it would. So if your child drew a picture and you day “that’s lovely honey” it’s not as effective at communicating your approval as “that’s lovely, honey. I especially like glow you painted that elephant such an interesting shade of blue”. The latter tells the child that you’re actively engaging with their effort. Similarly, instead of just saying “that’s a nice elephant” the theory encourages you to ask questions instead to let your child verbalise their own thought process: “that’s a nice elephant. Can you tell me why you picked that particular colour for the elephant?” will again show the child that you’re actually taking the time to *look* at their work and also makes them consciously talk through their decision making process.

    These types of articles are very common in publications that lean toward child-led or attachment parenting approaches and they make sense to me. So have a look for articles on praise and learning mindsets. You might find that you’re mis-remembering what you read and have a different take on it.

    But if you find anything on not saying “I love you” to your kids then yeah, back away slowly. That’s just BS.

    Liked by 1 person

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