2. Inappropriate Love


Most parents love their children but many do not know how to love them. They often convey inappropriate love but this is not always intentional because it comes from a misunderstanding of what love is. In our previous lesson we discussed unconditional love, this is the proper way to love our children.

In this lesson, we want to cover some ways in which inappropriate love is shown to children. These are everyday common mistakes parents make in expressing their love to their children. We will cover about four areas in this study. We are reserving the area of low self-esteem for a future lesson.

Pampering A Child

We pamper a child by catering to every little whim they may have. Buy them everything they demand, take them anywhere they wish, and answer and comply with every demand. Of course, the more we give in, the more they demand and so, it becomes a vicious cycle.

Many in this generation have been sacrificed on the altar of overindulgence, permissiveness and smothered love inappropriately given.

Many get into the bribing game, ‘don’t cry, mummy will get you a lollypop.’ ‘If you’ll be a good girl I’ll get you some ice cream.’ ‘If you’ll mind the babysitter I’ll bring you a big surprise.’ It starts with a lollypop and ends up with a car, ‘if you’ll go to college I’ll buy you a car.’

We think we are showing love by giving them what they demand but this is not love. Actually, we are teaching them to be self-centred and selfish. Television generates a child’s desire for an expensive materialistic lifestyle.

We should never think a child is entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want it. They will soon receive gifts with little pleasure or appreciation.

Also, think of the problems this produces in later life when the family income may not permit this self-centred person to have anything they want. I get what I want complex, leaves a child with the feeling the world revolves around them. The result is utter contempt and disregard for those close to them.

This generation has had more than any previous generation, yet it has been called the ‘mad generation’. Why? Simply because the young are angry because no one cared enough to say ‘no’ and put some restrictions on them.

This might sound strange to some but children want rules, they desire restrictions. They know that someone cares about them but so many young people today feel that no one cares about them. This is a result of a permissive society.

We must understand a child will have little respect for parents who do not lay down boundaries. Inside they are thinking, ‘they are stupid. I can wrap them around my finger’. Children with no restraints will grow up to resent their parents.

A child wants to hear his parents say ‘no’. If there are no ‘no’s’ they think they don’t care about them, thus they feel unloved. Yet many parents mistakenly think that by letting the child do as they please they are showing love. To say ‘no’ would be cruel, harsh, and unloving. How wrong they are!

A child who has few restrictions when growing up will have a rough time adjusting to the real world later on that will not give them everything they desire.

They will have a real problem in keeping a job, working out their marriage, and even in relating to their friends. Set up your restrictions and stand by them, learn to say no.

Pushing Them To Be One Of The Beautiful People

The most highly valued personal attribute in our culture is attractiveness. Surveys show that the one-thing girls want to change the most is their appearance. The first thing parents are concerned about when a child is born is how it looks.

Early in life, a child begins to learn the social importance of beauty. Beauty contests are held all over the country for gorgeous babies, children, teens and finally Miss England.

Beauty has become the number one attribute, but one day they look in the mirror and realise they are not one of the beautiful people. The stigma soon leaves its imprint and the result is low self-esteem, ‘I’m not very pretty is the conclusion, thus I’m not as good or important as others’.

One can have a slight blemish and suddenly they are not pretty. To them, this means their worth is not as great as others. Beauty in our society means power. It can be dangerous in immature hands, leading to conceit, and arrogance. It is letting a child think its worth is dependent upon outward appearance.

The concept is deeply ingrained that beautiful people are superior to everyone else, after all, they get all the attention. Is it any wonder that so many children have low self-esteem?

What Is God’s Attitude?

‘For the Lord does not see as man sees: for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the hearts’. 1 Samuel 16:7. Again in 2 Corinthians 10:7, we read, ‘Do not look at things according to outward appearance.’ Also, read 1 Peter 3:3-4.

The so-called ‘Hippie Movement’ was actually a reaction to parents’ emphasis on clothes, beauty, and materialism. This reaction results in an overreaction for long hair, bazaar clothes, lifestyle and primitive ways. Parents had substituted things for love. Feeling unloved they often found it in communes where love and concern were shown.

Undue Pressure To Achieve

Intelligence is the second most critical attribute in evaluating a child’s worth in our culture. Parents want a child who will be a credit to them. They must excel, succeed, triumph, and be the star.

When a child seems to show some intellectual ability that seems above average, we can’t wait to tell others of his superiority. We often repeat in their presence things they have said or done. We ask them to perform, to demonstrate how intelligent they are.

This of course boosts our ego. We often put undue pressure on children to succeed. This is conditional love based on how well they perform and meet our vicarious needs.

Fathers often use sons to satisfy athletic needs. John McKay, coach of Southern California, made an interesting statement once about his own son and his playing ability.

When asked by some reporters about his son’s playing ability his response was, ‘yes, I’m pleased that John had a good season last year. They do a fine job and I am proud of them. But I would be just as proud if he had never played the game at all’.

Inappropriate love such as described above, serves the abnormal needs and hang-ups of parents but not the needs of their children. So many parents live through their children. This is very selfish, damaging and inappropriate. Love your child for what they are, not for the selfish ambitions you might have for them.

If they can only be a ‘C’ student, love them as much if they made all ‘A’s’. Don’t make them feel bad or inferior for something they cannot help.

Over Protection

It is a proven fact that human personality grows through mild adversity providing it is not crushing. Contrary to what some believe the ideal environment for a child is not one devoid of problems and trials. Many reared during the depression years tried to spare their children from any hardships.

They thought this was showing love. The results were they raised children who did not know how to cope with the real world. The going can get a little rough in marriage, business, on the job and they quit, give up.

Go To Lesson 3


"So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God."