I hope you guys are in the mood today for a good discussion. Danny and I discuss this topic all the time…because it’s something that seems to come up almost on a daily basis from readers, friends, family…and it’s all over blogs and social media.
We’d love to talk about what really is considered LOVE between a mother and child.
Too often, emotions and behaviors rooted in fear, guilt, anger inadequacy, hurt, and worry get mistaken for and even glorified as actions of love. But we think love isn’t anywhere near these things. There is something better.
We recently saw a blog post by a very well-intentioned, heartfelt mother. Her post actually nailed what we’re talking about. She writes:
The anger of watching your child’s first rejection on the playground and the hurt of seeing them try and fail. That, too, is love.
Can you relate to this? Do you think the emotions of fear, anger, guilt, hurt and worry are born of LOVE?
We think this is so important to consider as it is astonishing how many adults we meet or converse with who say they were raised by a mother in fear, anger, doubt, guilt, hurt, worry, inadequacy, etc., etc. and are STILL trying to grapple with self-worth and trust in themselves and in life. And I can see why. I think it’s safe to say that raising children while consumed with these emotions would not lead to the best environment to cultivate or teach children to have inner peace, confidence, empowerment, independence, and self-worth.
Here’s Danny’s response to the article:
I am not trying to suggest that the author doesn’t love her children, I am sure that she does. But, when I think of love in its purest form, I think of just the opposite of what was described.
Let’s call anger what it is…anger. And let’s call fear what it is…fear. Feeling anger and fear and doubt and guilt may trigger in an individual the desire to move towards love, but that requires actual movement away from fear, doubt and bitterness…not an embracing of it. The only embracing I would do of those base emotions is to embrace them as teachers…they warn us when we are at a less optimal state of being, when our natural reactions have gotten the best of us, and provide for us an opportunity to choose a different state.
Actions that have their root in fear and anger and doubt are never as powerful or as fulfilling as actions rooted in love. Seeing your child rejected on the playground may first inspire anger, but if your next action comes from anger, you are likely to yell at the other child or scream at the mother of the child that rejected yours…or at least stew in some ugly anger and resentment and dysfunction for the next few minutes, hours, or days (and how can you be the best mother to your child or the best spouse if you are feeling those things…is that what any of us would call love? Is that how you would want to teach your children to respond to negative experiences?) If, however, when you feel that anger and recognize it, and choose instead patience, compassion, calm and stillness of mind (and tongue), you then get to inhabit the decision making process that only love allows…which is not to jump in and scold some other child or parent…but to be just as patient with the child that rejected yours as you hope some other mother will be to your child if and when they do the same.
Anger and fear and doubt are not love. They never have been and never will be. And any action that has as its primary root this anger and guilt and doubt, will only cause more suffering, not less…which is exactly why I wouldn’t call it love to begin with.
And now, what do you think? What is love to you? Do you find it easy to distinguish between love and other less than desirable emotions? Do you feel inclined to defend those emotions as forms of love? Do you see in yourself or others a definition of love that perhaps might be missing the mark? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
(image from Kate Spade)