Childfree people in America often get nagged by those with kids about unconditional love. People who have kids imply in a very intrusive way that if their interlocutors choose not to have a kid, nobody will love them unconditionally. “Who will love you unconditionally?” or “You will never know what unconditional love is” it goes. But do American parents really experience unconditional love from their kids? Their behavior shows that they not only do not, but the kids’ love, if any, is strongly conditioned by bribes and concessions from their parents.
Seeing American parents kowtowing to their kids throws a shadow of doubt on their unconditional love statements. Do they really believe it, in spite of their behavior that proves the contrary? If so, they must be really naive. Do they not see that what they call “unconditional love” actually depends on constant bribing and catering to the kid?
It is very easy to observe anywhere in public places that American parents are scared that their kids will not love or even like them. They do not make any demands for proper and respectful behavior for fear that their precious snowflake will not like it and, in turn, not like the parent who made the demand. They beg the kid instead of giving clear and strict orders and put themselves at the mercy of the spoiled, bratty kid. “Please, please, would you please, you are hurting my feelings, please do not scream this much, do not hurt my feelings, please, please, please” is their way of telling a two or three year old to stop ear-piercing screaming in a public place where silence is a standard required behavior. “Keep quiet”, “stop it” or “quiet, right now!” with a strict, serious face (and an immediate smile after the kid complies) is enough to get a normal, well-trained kid to comply, and this is what millions of people all around the world successfully do. However, Americans not only lack those skills, they are also too insecure and have a constant need to kowtow to the kid for fear it will not love them. So, where is the unconditional love?
American parents do not require the kid to eat what they decide is good for it but give it too many choices, often unhealthy, and let the kid that is too young to make such decisions eat whatever it wants, just because it wants to. Wherever food is served, it is easy to notice frequent scenes of this kind. I also remember an article published quite a few years ago about a woman from California (actually occurred before the more recent case in San Francisco) who started an action to ban within the whole town a fast food meal choice that included a toy just because her two year old kid was harassing her (her own term) to buy it. This behavior is not only a terrible lack of child-rearing skills and the spine to say “no”, but also the mother’s insecurity that the kid will not love her. So, is this the unconditional love?
Americans stuff their kids’ mouths with candy bribes whenever they can and at a single kid’s whim. They fulfill kids’ orders obediently and immediately. They buy tons of toys just because the deity kid requested them, played with them for a short time, and after dumping them in a far corner to be forgotten, made requests for new ones that the insecure parents obediently bought. Even worse, if the parents buy a toy the king or queen does not like, they get yelled at, thrown insults at, and jump into the car to get the right one, terrified that the little dictator will not like them. Companies play marketing tricks on parents’ insecurity by offering more and more toys and tons of plastic add up in landfills, ruining our common heritage – the environment – just because someone who has a kid does not want to say “no”. So, where is the kid that loves unconditionally?
Love normally includes respect. American kids, however, disrespect their parents severely, and the parents let them do it terrified that they may not get “unconditional” love if they bring the kid to order. I heard kids, starting at a very young age, disrespect parents in public places with unmentionable insults, “stupid” being the lightest of them. I have heard young kids talk back to their parents in such a shameless and aggressive way that a normal parent in any other culture would react immediately with proper punishment. I have read outrageous stories of very young kids abusing their parents verbally and physically (no, not teens with criminal backgrounds, but preschool and early elementary school kids of middle and upper middle class parents), with parents doing nothing to counteract it, just complaining about it. I was appalled to see kids actually beat their parents in public places with no reaction on the adults’ side. So, does unconditional love really involve verbal and physical abuse?
In so many societies around the world, parents teach and train their kids strictly. They make demands and requests, they make the kids work, they punish the kids for any attempt of disobedience and disrespect, they are never at kids’ whim, to not kowtow to them, do not obey kids’ orders (kids would never dare to give orders to adults, they may only kindly ask), they would never let a kid talk back to them, not to mention a kid hitting an adult. Those kids do not have expensive toys and happily rely on what they invent to play with. They do not have designer clothes, some of them barely have any hand-me-down clothes at all. They do not get candy bribes, extracurricular classes, or expensive vehicles with permanently unemployed mothers to drive the kids.
Yet, these kids are happy, polite, and respectful. They love and obey their parents, respect them and, in the lack of reliable social security systems, take good care of them when they get old (nursing homes in these societies are scarce or nonexistent). It is a result of parents’ wisdom in loving and disciplining the kids accordingly. It is the child rearing skills passed on from generation to generation, leaned by living one’s life in a participating society, without succumbing to any fads of “parenting styles” but also the confidence that results from these skills. These parents are not insecure or terrified that their kids will not like them. They are sure of their kids’ unconditional love which indeed has no conditions or requirements just as their parents and grandparents were sure and confident.
Love is not about bribing. If a bribe is needed to get something, it is corruption, not love, and by no means is it unconditional. Worshiping and bribing kids, putting them on a pedestal as the center of the universe, and kowtowing to them is harmful for both the kids and the society as a whole. It spoils the kids, makes them extremely rude, self-centered, and entitled. Just look around, this deplorable result is clearly visible (and especially audible) in all sorts of public places. Kids must be disciplined wisely, by responsible, confident adults not terrified or insecure that the kid will not like them. The unconditional love will follow as a result of the proper child rearing process.