This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Unconditional Love

I just finished reading the book Can This Child Be Saved?  Solutions for Adoptive and Foster Families by Foster Cline and Cathy Helding - (which I HIGHLY recommend and will be reviewing in another post) and at the very end it discussed "unconditional love."  It has always bothered me that I do not feel love for Bear.  I have tried to be very honest about that on this blog, and I feel I have very justified reasons for this, but I can't help feeling guilty about it.

After reading this book, I realized that I do feel unconditional love for Bear.  As many people say about romantic relationships, I am not "in love" with him, but I do love him.

The definition and application of the concept of unconditional love according to Can This Child Be Saved?:

"Unconditional Love Means

  • Acting in the best interests of the children to the best of your ability.
  • Modeling healthy relationships and setting limits.
  • Maintaining your commitment to the children, even if the children can no longer reside in the home.
  • Acting in a fair (but not necessarily equal) and loving way.
  • Expressing parental feelings for both the children and their behaviors.  Saying, for example, "I love you sweetheart, but I cannot allow you to hurt your sister.  It's my job as a parent to keep everyone in the family safe.  I wouldn't let her hurt you either.
Unconditional Love Does Not Mean
  • Allowing the family to be victimized by abusive children.
  • That any and all behavior will be accepted and tolerated.
  • Parents must take responsibility for the children's problems.
  • Parents must rescue the children from the results of their behavior.
  • Permitting an abusive or dangerous child to remain in the home.
  • Allowing children who have been victimized in the past to use that fact as an excuse or reason to  avoid responsibility.  (We empathize and show compassion for past hurt, but realize the children's situations have changed, and they are no longer being abused.  We should try to help them move on and leave the victim role behind.)
Modeling is the most powerful force in parenting.  By tolerating abuse from our kids (or adults), we are modeling that this is a healthy way to live and love.  There must be some limits to unconditional love or kids will put up with abuse from their spouses and think that this is the healthy way to love.  By not drawing the line with these kids, do we teach them all - birth and adopted - the script of living with folks who abuse us?"


Johanna said...

We should all review this list of unconditional love points. It is easy to get sucked into feeling that we don't love our kids because they are so difficult - but remembering what real love looks like can help us feel better about ourselves and our relationships with our kids. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I actually disagree really seriously with this. It makes sense with foster kids, some who will move on, but unconditional love does include making sure to tell them you love them until they're ready to believe it.
Its easy to tell you're very dedicated to your children. Its just an important detail.

marythemom said...

Anonymous - you bring a good point, although I disagree with you that foster kids don't need love. I do think my kids need to hear that I love them, and I do tell them that... it's just that sometimes I'm lying - depending on your definition of "love."