#45 -…”to be loved in return”

February 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Posted in Adoptive parenting do's | Leave a comment
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Last week-end our family (living in several different locations ) all met at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.  Our daughter had discovered a small country church in the area on another occasion and asked if I wanted to attend on Sunday morning.  I did, so she and I drove to this small, very friendly church.

There was a visiting minister there last Sunday who delivered a half hour sermon titled “To love and be loved in return.” This phrase is taken from the song Nature Boy recorded by Nat King Cole years ago, and the full phrase is “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

I’d heard that song many times, but I never thought deeply about the message.  The minister wasn’t talking about romantic love, but instead all kinds of love (romantic love being just one of them).  As he was speaking I thought about child and parental love.  How easy it is for us to be controlling parents, as well as loving parents, but do we open ourselves up enough to accept our children’s love, to be loved in return? We hope our children love us, but do we present ourselves as people, imperfect people at that, but still people who deserve to be loved?  That can be a scary thing to do, to show our vulnerability.

I think often we hold back here.  We don’t want to show our vulnerability, and certainly not our weaknesses in front of our children.  But, what are we teaching our children?  True love of any kind is a love that loves, warts and all, as they say.  Our children are undoubtedly not going to meet a perfect spouse, but by our example are we teaching our children that one needs to be perfect in order to be loved?  Many times we hear adults talking about how they felt they needed to earn their parents’ love, that they were not loved for just being who they were.  They speak of conditional love, wishing they had been raised with unconditional love instead.

I hadn’t thought of that phrase as applying to family love until last week-end when the message came through in this little country church perched high on a hill above the lake.  I think I was guilty of being too controlling as a parent, hiding my insecurities from my children, not wanting them to see what I perceived to be my weaknesses.  We love our children, faults and all, but we sometimes are too emotionally distant to allow our children to love us – just for who we are.

The phrase – “just to love, and be loved in return” is a very soothing  sentiment, taking the pressure off of perceived demands we put on ourselves to be as perfect as we can be. The main thing our children want from us is our unconditional love.  We do them a favor when we relax enough to teach them that none of us is perfect.  That gives them the opportunity to learn they are capable of returning that unconditional love.  Learning to love unconditionally is a good quality to have in life, indeed it’s a gift we can demonstrate for our children.

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