I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.

—Billy Joel

Loving without judgment can be hard for parents to do. I’ve seen so many parents be incapable of accepting their children (particularly tweens and teens), criticizing their decisions, their style, their friends, and their choices. What they’re really doing, though, is tearing at the fabric of the person.

It dawned on me, though, that we truly owe our kids this kind of belief and faith in them, this unconditional, all-accepting love. Don’t they give it to us?

In fact, I would say that our kids are the only people on earth who truly love us without any kind of strings. They don’t care if we’re old or young, educated or not, working in a high profile career or home with them every day. They just love us.

My kids are good for my self-esteem, because even when I question myself as a parent, a writer, or in some other role I play, my kids are the first to see me and tell me that I am perfect. They love me precisely the way I am.

We often talk about how parents play a critical role in building self-esteem in their kids, and I firmly believe that by raising kids with healthy self-esteem, we empower our kids to avoid and overcome challenges like drugs, peer pressure, and bullying. When we love our kids unconditionally, accept them for who they are, believe in their capabilities, and don’t judge them, we give them all the tools they need to believe in themselves.

I think if we as parents could find a way to love our kids the way they love us – unconditionally and without judgment – that our relationships with our children would be stronger, making it easier for them to reach out to us when they need us. Our children would be happier and more confident about who they are, and we could see just who they were meant to become.