Is unconditional love bad parenting?

Psychology Today isn’t often on my reading list, but in my daily search for the bizarre and trivial parenting news across the Web, I found this blog post, titled “Parenting: Unconditional Love is Bad!”

I was intrigued.

The blogger, a psychologist named Jim Taylor, went on to argue that in the big picture of parenting, unconditional love is neither the historical norm nor a good idea:

Rewarding children — love is really the ultimate form of reward — regardless of their behavior robs children of one of their most important lessons-that their actions have consequences. What more powerful inducement to good action is there for your child than the threat of losing your love? … Most things in life have strings attached and love is no different.

Assuming Taylor is right, and that unconditional love is a relatively new phenomenon, then this goes hand-in-hand with the spanking debate, which I’ve written about previously. Both represent a more liberal trend within parenting philosophies over the past half-century. Love more, hit less. Reward good behavior rather than punish bad behavior. Kids should love their parents rather than fear them.

What do you think? Should parental loved have to be earned? Or is it a birthright?

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