A parent asked me what Generation Z (the generation after Millennials) needs to hear right now in a seemingly charged “cancel culture” in America. I replied, “talk about character and values packaged in unconditional love.” Generation Z is still looking for their identity and so it’s important instill to them through display and multiple conversations of character like kindness, patience, gentleness, work ethic, honesty and integrity. In a “side-hustle” and multiple-gig income source generational trend, the conversation should not only be about what type of specific work they should be doing but also what type of men and women they should aspire in being. And the key to these conversations are wrapped in unconditional love.
Unconditional love is the type of love that you offer without strings attached. It means you love them unconditionally and want nothing more than for them to be happy and set free. Even though it seems like such a simple concept, unconditional love is something that most people rarely encounter in real life. Unconditional love is a type of selfless act. A 2009 study found that feelings of unconditional love can stimulate the parts of the brain that are responsible for emotional health. Unconditional love can also improve a person’s emotional well-being not including improved resiliency and mental health. Even though people make mistakes, unconditional love requires unconditional acceptance. This includes forgiveness if they make a mistake, and acceptance if they cause harm. Unconditional love doesn’t always mean avoiding a conflict or looking away from problematic behavior. But consistently addressing problematic behaviors in a kind, patient and loving manner.
Since late last year, I was given the opportunity to house three delinquent local teenage boys in my home in Colorado. I almost felt like it was God’s test for me after encountering the conviction of His unconditional love. And though I’m ways away from the full embodiment of unconditional love, I am thoroughly surprised of the impact so far of my reach for it. Besides multiple conversations of simple upkeep of the house and general hygiene, they are growing up to be fine young men. In few short months, I saw hope come back into their eyes of a future! I will be satisfied if this is my only prize for this good deed—hope alive. And so, next year they are “launching” from my home, however, what they’re also leaving behind is a great honor of being their father.