By Nancy Virden (c)2020
Unconditional love is much of what we long for in life. Humans are incapable of following through with that ideal although many of us try when it comes to our sons and daughters.
Love tends toward conditional when well-meaning parents devote everything to raising socially acceptable children. In one extreme, moms and dads smother them with constant input. The mother of a withdrawing teenage girl said, “I’m discovering her life has been one long lecture.” A 35-year-old daughter had the self esteem of a nervous junior-high child. Her mother considered it a parental duty to guide (nag) her children until her death.
Neither the teen nor the adult child received unconditional love. Any affection they received from their mothers was wrapped in thorns.
Riley knew she dare not disappoint her mother. In college she selected two majors in the sciences and a minor in history. For two years she carried a 4.0 in each. Making her mother proud was the goal that drove her hard work, except mom was never proud. Ignoring the mental and emotional toll, it took two suicide attempts and subsequent hospitalizations to slow Riley down. Finally, she was forced to put college on hold.
My youngest son’s birth was a dramatic one, and first responders gave him a stuffed panda. I put it away on a shelf to preserve it. Now, this grown son remembers several toys fondly but has no concern for the panda. I wanted it to be special, and ruined that ideal by keeping the boy and panda separate.
For what cause? I had decided the bear could either be dirty or memorable. By pushing such perfectionist ideals onto our children, we risk losing meaningful connections.
Today’s Helpful Word
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
*** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
Thank you Nancy. This writing really spoke to me. I have 2 daughters that are young adults in their 20s. I struggle with trying to find a balance in my role as Mom, wanting to offer coaching and counseling, without smothering them with too much ‘helpful guidance’. I think I am failing miserably. 😦
I’ve come up with trying to edit myself by reciting this in my mind: “LTLTL”…”Let Them Live Their Lives”.
We love our children so much! But I know that if we never stop running along side, holding on to the bike as they try to ride without trying wheels, they will never get their own sense of balance in order to ride off successfully without us. And that is what we really want, right?
Thanks again for the insights you share.
Yes, and it is hard when they are in their early young adulthood. It is a transition for us, too! But what a relief one day when it dawned on me that my job was over. I had done everything I could to the best of my ability and now not only were they free, but I was also. Now, it is a pleasure to be that safe person my adult children will come to when they want advice or to just talk.
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