Is Acceptance the New Love?

beautiful child

Of course we love our children.  We often say things like “I’m doing this because I love you” or “If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t care what you do.” But love means different things to different people. Poets, philosophers, and mystics have been pondering the meaning of love for thousands of years, and still, who can define it for anyone else?

Let’s stop focusing on how much we LOVE our children, and start focusing on how much we ACCEPT them.  How would things be different if we said, “I’m doing this because I accept you” or “If I didn’t accept you, I wouldn’t care what you do”?  Whoa!

If it were as simple as substituting words, more parents would tune in to the importance of understanding and accepting their kids for who they are. When I speak with parents, they ask what is it that we’re supposed to accept?  Does accepting who my children are mean unconditional acceptance of their behavior?

I address these important questions when I teach parents to lead with acceptance.  Here is a brief excerpt from Raise the Child You’ve Got–Not the One You Want which will hit the bookshelves this September:

Reminder: It’s Not An Unconditional Acceptance of Behavior

I’m not, however, advocating for the unconditional acceptance of everything a child does. I’m not encouraging parents to recognize a child’s disrespect or engaging in dangerous activity as expressing his CoreSelf. In fact, “acceptance” has become a buzzword for abdicating parental responsibility, or teaching children proper behavior. On the contrary, acceptance doesn’t mean parents get to resign from being an authority figure, an anchor, or someone that demands the respect from their child. It doesn’t mean being a friend to your child before you are a parent. This is the polar opposite from being a parent who leads with acceptance, which means accepting who your child is, and guiding WHAT your child does.

How would your relationship with your children change if you shifted your focus from love to acceptance?

Image: Flickr Pratham Books


  • Ellen Warsaw says:

    What a helpful and hopeful message you are sharing!
    Thank you, Nancy Rose, for opening our eyes and our hearts to a new way of looking at our precious children.

  • Karen R says:

    This message is so important (and current), especially within the LGBT community. Have you see the trailer for the Family Acceptance Project’s film? Maybe one day you can speak at a Mormon (or other organized religion) conference and address these issues to help spread the love.

    • Nancy Rose says:

      Karen, thanks for the link to the Family Acceptance Project. I watched the trailer and boy, is that powerful! I hope to spread the love and acceptance and it would be an honor to present leading with acceptance to these churches.

  • Suzanne says:

    Our flaws and imperfections are often what forms us into more interesting humans. (Who gets to determine what is a flaw…?) I’m looking forward to reading your chapters about acceptance.

    • Nancy Rose says:

      Exactly! “Who gets to determine what is a flaw…?” Well put, Suzanne. In explaining the CoreSelf, I write that there are challenges and opportunities in every trait. What makes the difference is how that trait gets expressed in a person’s life.

  • Jackie Weintraub says:

    I really can relate to your message. It is so damaging to a person to be told (in subtle ways) that you aren’t good enough the way you are. The greatest gift a parent to give their child is to love them they way they are, but be a strong leader and help them channel their personality in a positive direction.

    • Nancy Rose says:

      How true that it’s done in subtle ways as well as overtly. And those “mixed” messages can be complicated to heal from!

  • David Rosenblum says:

    Yes, but please explain how to love our children (and ourselves) by accepting everything – including the not-so-good things, too. It seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it, to accept the warts in our personality and that of our loved ones?

    • Nancy Rose says:

      Well, we don’t accept everything, we accept the traits that our children are born with…the things that they cannot change about themselves (I call this the CoreSelf.) Otherwise we are making them wrong for being who they are. In my book that’s coming out in September, Raise the Child You’ve Got—Not the One You Want, I teach parents how to do exactly that.

  • Blanca Cobb says:

    Great point. In my opinion, I believe acceptance is to accept our children unconditionally with all their strengths, weaknesses, quirks, imperfections. Love them for the people they are. Help them accept themselves as they are as we, their parents, have learned to accept our ourselves, with all of our imperfections.

    • Nancy Rose says:

      Blanca, you bring up a key point–that it is difficult to accept others as they are unless we learn to accept ourselves as we are.

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