One Way Loving
When we love someone, we have no expectation of getting love from them. When we are in love with someone, we have expectations of being loved back.
Loving our children can be an instant kind of love or an attachment that builds over time. The love between a parent and child is its own kind of love and bond. But it is mostly a one way kind of love.
Think about how you feel about your own parents compared to how you feel about your child. For me there is no comparison. The intensity of unconditional, fierce love I have with my children outshines just about everything. This love and bond is what drives us to care for our children even in their darkest moments. They need this kind of love from us.
What we have to be careful of, is expecting this kind of love in return. This is what happens when we fall in love with our children. It sets up the expectation of getting that same kind of love and acceptance back.
It is not the job of the child to unconditionally love the parent. They won't love you the same. It is not set up that way. They will love you, and love you deeply, especially if you understand and accept the inequality of this loving relationship.
Loving your children without being in love with them allows you to be the strong, caring parent. Your child will at some point say they don't love you. They say it out of frustration or anger. Do you love them in the moment they don't like you, or do you get mad at them for not loving you back? This is the ultimate test of your unconditional love. They need you to just love them.