Tonight, I present to you thoughts on parents, but mostly, or at least firstly; about love. Here is a brief introduction on my feelings present in the core of love. While I am fortunate to have experienced much in my life, I’m no guru and I certainly don’t feel I have any greater concept of truth than you do. I welcome your constructive additions in the comments.
I do not believe one can give or receive love if they you do not have a level of self-love.
You have to be at peace with yourself in order to understand your outward affections as genuine and to communicate them in a love language that reaches your partner. An example of this could be, if you know your partner loves acts of service, more specifically let’s say they love breakfast in bed more than anything. Unfortunately, your negative self-talk leads you to “I’m a bad cook, I just won’t bother doing that for them.” Then your lack of self-love causes you to close off a communication need for the other person. The person with a level of self-love, similar to self-confidence in believing both that they are capable as well as wanting to support their partner, commits to learning how to cook. In the second example, the person loves their partner enough to grow. In the first, they don’t love themselves enough to try. And how can you receive the love of another if you do not believe you are worthy? Lack of self-love becomes a shield, deflecting your would-be partner’s genuine love as one might shield shield themselves from the discomfort of rain with an umbrella. For this example, let’s say your love language is words of affirmation. Here is your partner declaring you beautiful, charming, awe-inspiring, and practicing gratitude for sharing time together. Maybe you shrug it off, “what else was I going to do today?” because you can’t believe it. After all, in your eyes, you’re not “beautiful” so it must not be true. In summary, without a level of self-love you are not able to truly give or receive love from another. You are simply not capable of understanding it in its raw, natural, limitless beauty or appreciating it.
The exception to that is to your children. I am personally new to parenthood, but I have shared walks of life with parents at an all-time low. Stress levels – off the charts. Self-love – absent. That breaking point comes from life’s woes with tears paving the way. Still, when that child of any age comes with a need or even a want, we can shift. Unlike with a partner, friend, or literally anyone else, giving and receiving love from your child does not require self-love. There are exceptions to this I’m sure, but I believe most parents, especially but not limited to mothers, embody this. Maybe it’s biological programming. Maybe it’s because they need us and in no other relationship is there a need, shedding light on the cliche “it’s good to feel needed.” Maybe because we are, from their birth, providers whom want nothing in return from our little ones. In a way, it’s remarkable and simply beautiful. This is different from the expectations for partners and friends. If your spouse left as much of a mess for you to clean up as your children, you’d be upset. They’re your partner, your on this journey together, not their sponsor or cleaning service. As for your friends, well if they scribbled with crayons on your walls, you might not invite them to the next party; or at least not leave them unsupervised.
We do everything for our children, and especially when they are younger, they love you infinitely for it. Teenagers, probably less so because, well; they’re teenagers. The younger kiddos, as parents, we are their whole world and that is a powerful feeling. When it becomes obsessive and those other life-roles are sacrificed, starting again from of a lack of self-love, it can become a codependency. It could become narcissistic parenting or parental-ocd. If you’ve had parents with those conditions; more likely so – continuing the cycle. I contribute this to why there are so many single parents, obsessively living within their parent role when in reality they never had to choose. There was always an option to be a parent and a spouse, and a friend, and a team mate, etc.. But the family, social, and individual sabotage creates the environment for the parental-role obsession, “my kids are all I have,” even though they didn’t have to be. “I would die for my kids,” well duh, who wouldn’t you walking cliche – but would you live for them too?
This brings us back to self-love. As previously mentioned, not required for genuine love to exist in the parent/child relationship as with others, but with context we can now expand. It is invaluable for healthy Love of any kind. If one brought a level of self-love into their parent/child relationship, they would see that embracing all of these roles allows them to offer more of the world to themselves, and therefore to their children – and all other relationships. It truly takes a village and I can provide countless first-hand encounters to that having the privilege of an incredible childhood. If one was lacking in the self-love brought into the parent/child relationship, your kids will be all you have and hopefully they break free of the trauma you’ll create for them so their world can be bigger than you.
How does one foster self-love? Well that’s a HUGE topic for a whole other post. If you want to see that, let me know.
Live well and love infinitely, you deserve to.