I was reading the Guardian Life & Style Family section and â€œMy mum said I must give up my babyâ€ caught my eye. The stories are all sad, and all about the same. It was the 50’s or the 60’s and my parents didn’t want me bringing shame on their house so they took away my child and told me to get on with my life. My thoughts this morning are not on adoption, but on the conditions that are set on our children for them to ‘earn’ our love.
When I hold my daughter, when I see her running around, when I watch her testing the little limits that we have in place for her, I cannot imagine what she could do that could make my love for her waver.
If she falls pregnant at sixteen? Well, I’d be disappointed.
In the parenting I gave her.
In the choices I laid out for her.
In her lack of sex ed she received from me.
For her future opportunities.
Would I love her any less? How could I?
If she turns out to be a serial killer? Well, I’d be surprised.
She has none of the childhood indicators of someone who becomes a serial killer.
And yes, I suppose I’d be terribly upset, disbelieving and I’d probably be one of those mothers who supports their criminal child despite what they’ve done. Not to say I’d condone her actions, but I’d love my child. And I’d be bitterly sorry for the way I raised her.
Or at least, that’s the hope.
As a mother, I do not understand the conditional love that some parents have. It’s why I really don’t like the ‘guilt’ association with cuddles and kisses â€“ â€œWhy don’t you want to give me a kiss? Don’t you love me?â€
I’ve heard it from family and friends with children and I have never liked it. Maybe the child just doesn’t feel like kissing and cuddling. Sometimes I don’t either.
I guess if I raise my child as a sheep, there’s no problem. But if I am trying to raise my child to be an individual, to think independently and make her own decisions, then I have to expect that at some point my child will be an independent, free thinker who makes her own decisions. And that is how I will love her, even when I don’t agree with her.
I cannot understand parents who disown their children, and can’t help but see it as a weakness in the parent or a fault in their past parenting?
Am I wrong? Do you think that sometimes, it’s justified? Or is unconditional love an unrealistic ideal?
News Of The Week: Forced Adoption And Conditional Love
I cannot recommend highly enough Alfie Cohen’s Unconditional Parenting – and this website http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/
Unconditional love is not just good, justified, realistic, and healthy – it is essential. There are many *many* ways we give our children conditionality, some that I had not even considered. I am a way from being totally non-coercive, but we are a very cooperative household, and I do not use any kind of shame or love withdrawal to manipulate my children. I’m no more proud of saying that than I am of saying I read them stories.
It isn’t above and beyond the call of duty – it’s the bare minimum. To love them, not how I *think* they should be loved, but how THEY NEED to be loved, with full acceptance of their individuality and their freedom to choose their own path. To love them in a way that makes them *heard* – so that they KNOW they are loved in a more concrete way than the abstract way I felt as a child (I knew my parents loved me, but I felt unacceptable to them most of the time).
@Sarah, Thanks Sarah, I shall have a look at the website. I love how you say it’s not ‘special’ it’s just how it is. How it should be. You’re right. It IS the bare minimum. Why doesn’t everyone see that?