Unconditional love

10 comments
Help spread the word
ItalianoEnglishEspañol

Unconditional love. That’s what we owe the people we bring into this world.

Our love is too often conditioned. When we temporarily withdraw love because of their bad behavior. When we respond to their crisis with anger and frustration. When we talk to them like they’re less. When we act like they owe us. When we believe we’re more because we’re their parents and they’re our children. When we threaten them, even just “behave or there’s no ice-cream”. When we feel like we’re in the position to teach them. All those times, we love them conditionally.

Oliver sometimes wakes up in a bad mood. We know as soon as he opens I’m his eyes, and there’s no much we can do about it. No matter what we say or do, he’s not happy. His brain fixates on something that he can’t have — something absurd for breakfast, something new — and it’s endgame for everybody. We try and try and try, but we can’t get through.

One of those day, we were in Budapest and we had gone out to visit the centre. Oliver wanted ice-cream: he had one the day before and I had said we weren’t going to have one today. He kept saying it relentlessly, and we kept asking him to stop. He became so unbearable that we decided to reach a compromise in an attempt to save the day: we told him we could consider ice-cream after lunch. He didn’t accept that either. It was now or now, no compromises.

He stood in front of an ice-cream shop and wouldn’t move. I went down to his level, took his hands, looked at him in the eyes, and told him calmly: “I see you want an ice-cream. We can have an ice-cream right after we have lunch. Shall we go have lunch right now?”. It didn’t work, my words were not getting through to him.

His standing in the doorway was preventing customers from going in, so I took his hand and gently moved him to the side, but he yelled “NO!” and went back. That’s when I “lost” it and started carrying a screaming, kicking, punching Oliver through the centre of Budapest while everyone was looking at us.

I kept walking and holding him tight so he couldn’t get away. When I found a private place, I sat with him down on a bench and he hugged Alex, he was sobbing. I took a moment to breathe — a luxury I don’t always have in these circumstances — and I calmed down, but I was sad about how it went, that I couldn’t find a better way, that maybe I wasn’t strong enough to control my emotions.

We waited for him to calm down, then we walked to the first cafe to eat something. After lunch he went to sit by himself on a nearby bench and stayed there for a long time. Whatever he was thinking, it was clear he needed his space. When it was time to go, I went to sit next to him, he hugged me and I apologized. He then fell asleep in the stroller, and we reset the day.

While he was sitting on that bench, Alex and I talked. We thought of what we did wrong in the morning, what we could have done differently. We realized it probably wasn’t about the ice-cream, it was about us calling all the shots and him wanting to have his way in something: letting him decide where to go and following his lead might have had a better outcome with no need for a meltdown.

We reminded each other that we’re in a new house in a new city with new routines, and it’s hard for everybody. We talked about some sentences that we should avoid and replace with more respectful, less conditioned ones.

We also acknowledged how hard it is with him sometimes, how much we struggle to understand him, and we admitted to each other that we feel less love towards him when he is like that (I find it so important to say the uncomfortable truths).

But we also agreed on two things:

  1. When we struggle with him, it’s when he needs us the most. It’s the time to accompany him, and keep in control of our emotions, because (quoting one of my lovely readers) somebody has to stay calm.
  2. It’s US who need to change, because no matter how hard it is, parents owe unconditional love to our children. We owe them compassion, and sympathy and empathy and all the shades of love in between.

Every time we fail and think of ways to do it better, we evolve as parents and the next day we start fresh again. With even more patience, even more understanding, even more love.

Only if we accept that our children don’t owe us, we owe them. That we have little to teach them and lots to learn from them. That the size of our pride is directly proportional to the failures of our parenting. That when they “challenge us” and make us struggle, it’s not about us, it’s about them. That the way we act, and behave, and talk to them shapes the way they act, and behave and talk to us.

Only when we accept all that, can we raise our children with respect and welcome a new, alternative education, maybe different from the way we were raised.


Help spread the word

The woman behind the words

My name is Carlotta, I’m 33 years old, I’m Italian, married to a Finnish guy, and together we raise Oliver (4) and Emily (2) Montessori and multilingual. We’re selling everything to travel the world.

More about me →

Did you like it? Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

If you prefer, you can also tweet to me or write me privately.

  1. Ciao Carlotta, mi sono ritrovata molto nelle tue parole e i protagonisti dell’episodio che hai raccontato potremmo essere io e Niccolò. Ho letto in passato ed in questi giorni ho ripreso in mano “Amarli senza se e senza ma, dalla logica dei premi e delle punizioni a quella dell’amore e della ragione” di Alfie Kohn, un libro bellissimo sul concetto dell’amore incondizionato. E’ davvero difficile amare sempre così, e spesso non ci riesco. Non voglio essere una mamma perfetta per i miei figli, ma una mamma che sa riconoscere quando sbaglia e sa chiedere scusa. Spero di riuscirci.
    Buone avventure!

    • Carlotta - July 11, 2019

      Hai ragione, Ilaria! Grazie per questo tuo commento.
      Ps. Quel libro è bellissimo, è uno dei tanti che consiglio varie volte nel mio corso. 💕

  2. ROSALBA - July 11, 2019

    Questi “momenti no” alle volte servono proprio per ricordarci in che direzione vogliamo andare. Paradossalmente, la crisi di Oliver è stata lo spunto per importanti riflessioni tra te e Alex su come comportarvi in questo vostro periodo molto bello ma anche molto faticoso per vari aspetti. Nulla accade per caso 😉

  3. Valentina - July 14, 2019

    Ciao Carlotta!
    I tuoi post capitano sempre nel momento giusto.Siamo appena tornati da un weekend nel quale,con il nostro duenne,abbiamo affrontato momenti come quello che descrivi tu.Tanto da dirci “ma non potevamo rimanere a casa?”(parliamo di un bimbo che fino all’anno scorso ci ha fatto fare tutto!)
    Tu e Alex siete stati bravi a fare squadra e a mettervi in discussione.Spesso noi non ci riusciamo, e io e mio marito alziamo la voce tra di noi.
    Poi quando siamo in giro con nostro figlio urlante e scalciante,i figli degli altri ci sembrano sempre così bravi e angelici…sarà una distorsione di percezione? 😉

    • Ti ringrazio per il tuo commento, Valentina! Mi hai fatta sorridere… non sei l’unica, anche noi abbiamo degli incontri ravvicinati del terzo tipo con una mini persona che fino a dieci minuti ci sembrava di conoscere e poi ci cambia sotto gli occhi. In fondo, una ragione ci sarà per cui chiamano i due anni “i terribili due” e i tre “la prima adolescenza”! 😂 Un abbraccio 🌸

  4. Cara Carlotta, oggi in particolare leggo con così tanta gioia le tue riflessioni. Grazie con tutto il cuore per ispirarmi e per supportare anche senza volerlo il mio stesso sentire. I bambini sono portali di luce e di gioia, e se siamo davvero pionieri come dici tu…allora torneremo piano piano a costruire relazioni meravigliose. Paradossalmente i bimbi sono anche un grande potenziale fonte di stress…ma, come diceva qualcuno, è meglio passare dalle porte strette per raggiungere le cose più belle e più vere. Inutile dire che mi sono ritrovata perfettamente nel tuo episodio con Oliver. Non so descrivere la rabbia che mi monta su e la fatica che faccio a mantenere la calma quando Giovanni si butta per terra perché non gli arriva ciò che gli dico e vuole fare ciò che vuole lui. Però chiedere scusa dopo la tempesta e lasciare spazio aiuta sempre a ricominciare meglio e a fare anche solo qualche piccolo cambiamento di mira.
    Un abbraccio da Venezia

    • Carlotta - August 6, 2019

      Cara Paola, grazie per il tuo commento! “Meglio passare dalle porte strette” mi è piaciuta 🙂 Come scrivo nel mio corso online: le scorciatoie nella maternità non portano mai a dove vogliamo arrivare… e per me alla fine è sempre vero! Ti abbraccio stretta e grazie ancora di cuore per aver dedicato qualche minuto a lasciato due parole qui… mi fa tantissimo piacere.

  5. Ciao Carlotta, ti ringrazio per le tue condivisioni. Le tue parole riescono spesso a descrivere anche i sentimenti e i pensieri che viviamo noi con la nostra famiglia. Sei di un grande aiuto nel formulare a parole la quotidianità. Un grande grazie. Più in generale leggo spesso i tuoi post… Grande ammirazione.

    • Grazie a te, le tue parole mi regalano un sorrisone enorme! E mi fa tantissimo piacere leggerti, spero che continuerai a commentare 💕


In a hurry?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get all the latest posts directly to your inbox. Only one email per month. No spam (pinky promise!) 🙂


You might also like…

I’ve handpicked these articles for you so you can keep reading.


Popular articles…

These articles proved quite popular. Perhaps you’ll like them too.


Latest articles…

Hot off the presses for your reading enjoyment.

Imprint  ·  Privacy Policy