But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8 (NIV)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. -Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭(NLT)

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. -Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭(NIV)

The other day, my mom asked my five-year-old son, “Why do I love you?” and he replied, “Because I’m a good boy.” She’s been saying that to him since he could talk. At first glance, it would seem like a sweet exchange. Sadly, it took me a few years to see what was really happening: he was being taught that love was the reward for good behavior. I finally stepped in and gently said, “Son, your grandmother loves you no matter what, even when you’re disobedient.”

I was raised in a household where approval certainly did feel conditional, and I wanted to break the chain. Being raised to perform for affection and approval sets a worldview that leads to heartbreak, pain, and disappointment in personal and business relationships.

It’s easy to harbor resentment against your parents for planting seeds of issues that have clearly sprouted later in life. Sure, our parents definitely made mistakes, likely stemming from how their parents raised them. But the truth is, they did the best they could do, with the issues and situations and limitations they had. And if you’re this far into realizing it, then the thought may also occur that your parents–also flawed humans like us–may, to this day, not be even aware of their issues.

And no matter what we do to ensure we don’t continue the same mistakes with our children, we will unknowingly introduce other issues that may not manifest in them for years to come.

God shows us a better way…unconditional love and forgiveness for us, who don’t deserve it, nor could ever earn it. It’s a new day, a gift to each of us from God, to be used to make Him known. For Him who gave all for us, let’s do the same for our parents…and pray our children will do the same for us, to His glory.