Shouldn't God's love for us be unconditional, like a parent's for their child? He created us, therefore isn't it his duty to look after us, even when we sin? I do not understand why anyone needs to be punished eternally for their mistakes. I could not condemn any of my children, no matter what they did, to eternal punishment. Rather, I would want to offer them love and support and (hopefully) good counsel. How can I be more compassionate than God? On a related point, free will is only genuinely free if no punishment is inflicted for making the wrong choice. Otherwise it's like lending your friend some money and leaving it entirely up to them whether they repay it but saying you will kill them if they don't. If you are sincerely offering the person a choice, there should be no awful consequences if they do something you do not like. To put it another way, if God gave us free will, why should He condemn us for using it? I find these questions so perplexing.
Yes, God’s love should be unconditional for those who are his children, who choose to follow his way. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Those who choose not to be in his family should not expect unconditional love, although he does love them and would rather they choose to be part of his family. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Does a creator have a duty to look after his creation? We don’t think so in human matters, so why would we expect that to be true of God? I know of no automobile manufacturer, for instance, that offers free body work for any accident any of their products may be involved in. That is why we have to buy insurance. “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:14-24)
As far as eternal punishment goes, there are really only two options as I see it: God punishes those who are not his children, who choose not to be part of his family; or God punishes nobody. The latter also brings up two options. The first would be that God says everyone can do whatever they want, even if it hurts themselves or someone else, because without punishment for wrong it doesn’t matter. The second is that God sets forth laws and requirements and does not love his children. It would be unloving to establish limits, and then treat everyone the same whether or not they stayed within those limits. It is not love for a parent to set a curfew, and then expect some children to abide by it but not punish the one that violates it. That shows a lack of love for those who choose to obey, at the expense of a greater love for the one who chooses to be disobedient. As a human being I can recognize that such an action on the part of another human is unloving; why would I expect a loving God to be different?
I also disagree, from a merely human standpoint, with your definition of free will. Free will says I allow you to make an informed choice of what to do. You have an equal ability to choose between two or more options. If one of those options brings about negative consequences and another brings positive ones, you still have the free will to choose between the two. Some people willingly choose the negative. That is true under human law. People have the choice to break the law, knowing there is a possibility (or even a certainty) of punishment, or to obey the law. Every day many people choose to violate the law regardless of the potential consequences. This is true whether the law is murder or speeding. All you have to do is drive on any freeway in the United States to know that free will has nothing to do with the possibility of punishment.
Using that argument, God does not condemn us for using free will. He offers the choices between good and evil, between reward and punishment. The punishment is not for exercising free will. The punishment is a previously stated consequence that one may use his free will to choose. If someone offers to sell you a car and you choose not to buy it, his withholding the title to the car from you is not punishment for choosing, it is an anticipated consequence of the choice.
What I would find perplexing is a god who set limitations and then refused to enforce them. We are perplexed by governments that refuse to enforce their own laws. Why should we be perplexed by one that enforces the law?