As I was doing my bible study today, it made me think about a parent’s love for their children. The study is Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver.
The author shared a story about walking a woman out to the parking lot after a talk Weaver had just given. In response to how the seminar went for her, the woman replied that she “felt that God loved her more than y’all.” The author compared that to the Apostle John’s writings where he refers to himself as “the one Jesus loved.” She thought that John must have felt so loved by Jesus that he, too, felt like the “Y’All” lady did. Weaver acknowledges that God loves us all that much and that it is just how great his love can make us feel.
Weaver goes on to describe how she wants that feeling too. She connects that feeling with how moms feel that way about their children. From the moment that baby is born, the love that surpasses all understanding that God talks about is what we feel for our children. Only God’s love is even greater.
I found myself nodding in quiet agreement as I read that part. I vividly remember the astounding revelation that there were not words to describe the love we felt for our new son when he was born. My husband experienced the same kind of emotional, indescribable love that I did. That love that is completely unconditional, all-encompassing, and absolutely wonderful and joyful. Like being “in love”, but in a far more crazy, wild, and great loving way.
What is so interesting is that it can seem like such a one way street so much of the time, as our children grow each day, each month, and each year.
As a parent coach and speaker, I get asked every now and then if a parent can love their children too much. Surprising, isn’t it?
Love them too much? No, I don’t believe so. We can’t love them too much, but we can sure miss the mark and not give them what they need most BECAUSE we love them so much we want to make them happy. We may deprive them of the gift of “No”, of appropriate boundaries, and of teaching them respect for themselves and others, or we may deprive them of teaching them to become responsible. As I share with the parents I work with and talk with, we can give them too much when it comes to “things”, “freedom”, and in all things we may do to make them happy rather than assessing what is best for them and using that as the primary guideline.
No, we can never love our children too much. The real challenge is to love them enough to try to always do what is best for them, even when they hate it – which can feel like a daily occurrence. We must love them enough to hold them accountable, to take the time to teach them what they need to become people of the integrity and character that God planned for them. Now THAT is a lot of love.
The biggest and hardest part of loving them so very much, is loving them enough to let them go as they grow up and go off to overnight camp(yikes), and start driving(heaven help us!), and go off to college, and leave home. Just like God did. He allowed us to have our free will and our lives to manage, hoping we would choose to include Him in every aspect of our lives. Just as we want the same for our children. Hoping they will want to share their lives with us too. (well maybe not every aspect, but you know what I mean).
May our kids feel so loved that they feel like the apostle John and the y’All lady. Most of all, may parents find the courage they need to do the hard part of parenting, when you love them so much you need to bear the brunt of their disappointment, anger, and/or unhappiness when you give them the gift of “No” when necessary. When you make them worship with you, even when they do not want to. When you won’t let them have the pop that is not good for them. When you make them go to bed at a set bedtime, because it is good for them to get enough sleep. When you make them take a nap because they need the rest. When you won’t let them go down the block because they are too young. When they can’t have that candy or toy at the checkout counter. (I am certain this is every parents booby trap from Satan himself). When they can’t do a sleep over. When they have to go to the family function. When they can’t have kids in the car when they begin driving. When they can’t have a cell phone. When they must include their sibs at their birthday party. When they have to share in family chores. When they cannot date until they are 21! Tee hee. You get the picture parents. May you feel blessed and empowered to love your children so much it hurts. OK, not 21…but…
Lori Jo Kemper is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® and speaker.
Copyright 2006, Lori Jo Kemper, www.TheParentingPath®