Parents need to be certain that their children feel loved no matter what they do, do not do, become or do not become. You are their parents and while you may not approve or accept their behavior, you will always love them. Along with the idea that they are loved without restrictions, is the idea that they can tell you anything because you are their best friend.
Ideally, all children should be able to go to their families as their first resource in time of trouble. They might expect their parents to cry and to be upset but never to reject them or to tell them they are no good. Instead, with their families
input, they should be helped to find an acceptable solution to their problem. This should go for any problem including financial, pregnancy, or drug addiction. As we all know, that is usually not the case.
Wise parents begin getting this message across when their children are very young. It helps to be encouraging and to catch your children when they are doing things right and commenting on how well they are doing. Only commenting on things children do wrong makes them lose confidence in themselves and feel they are bad persons. It also makes them fearful of losing your love. In order to be loved, they might feel they have to be perfect and never make a mistake. Since this is impossible, they will hide a great deal from you, things you really should know.
In many ways, these are dangerous times. Children are not as safe as they used to be. They may have a negative experience and be afraid to tell you about it because, in their minds, you always seem to get mad at them when something goes wrong. They may even feel it is their fault, that they are very bad and that they must hide it from you. This is especially true of children who have been sexually abused. It is also true of adolescent girls who find themselves in abusive relationships with boyfriends and know that it is wrong but do not know what to do about it.
It is very important that children be confident of your complete acceptance of them. If they are having difficulty, help them solve the problem. Do not place blame on them. If you do not feel that your children trust you in this way, you might need to make it explicit. For young children, you could do this through a story like “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. Your librarian can suggest other books for older children.
Another very effective technique is to watch television with your children and comment on what is happening and how you feel about it. You could also comment on why you would have reacted if the same event occurred in your family. Since every conceivable scenario has been a topic for a television story, there are many opportunities not only for you to get your feelings across but to learn how your children feel.
I encourage you to find out and correct any misconceptions your children may have about you and how you might respond when they are in trouble or need a real friend.