Permission to Love

My friends are going through a nasty divorce now, and I can only speculate as to what the kids are going through. The message they are receiving is: “If you love your father (or mother), then I, your mother (or father) cannot love you.”

And while some children don’t bend in front of such callousness, others do… and then spend the rest of their lives blaming one parent, perhaps even unconsciously, for having cut them off from the other.

The implications here are enormous.

What we often do, when we love others, is try to please them not only by loving what they love, but also by Not Loving What They Don’t. This is totally contrary to our nature. Look at a group of young children, who haven’t yet learned to withhold their love: they love everyone. Later they learn who it’s acceptable to love and who it isn’t, based on what friends and parents say. Studies on the origin of racism, sexism etc. are very clear on this.

At the end of the day, the anger of those children towards their divorced parent won’t hold up any longer, and the truth will come out: It was the children themselves that agreed to be talked out of loving someone, for fear of losing someone else (the parent, for example). And these children are the only ones who can change it back. They need to forgive themselves if they are to ever get beyond their anger, not their parents. Most healing happens around this.

So a great part of becoming a mature adult is giving ourselves permission to love everyone and everything again. We have to say, “I don’t care whether you (mom and dad, friends, etc.) accept this or not, I’m going to love whoever I decide to love….

Especially myself.”

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