We Teach Love by Example, Do You?
The topic came up of what appropriate love might look like? That statement set off a tirade of rampant firings of memories of lost loves, broken hearts, the exhilarating thrill of a new lover, the love of my husband, the love I have for my best friend, the love for my children, for my parents and siblings. The love of art, of food and drink. A beautiful flower, a gorgeous sunset or a stunning woman. But in truth, the love I know is the love I was taught. Likewise, my children have learned to love by the example my husband and I have unwittingly shown them.
So what does appropriate love look like? We all know the answer being looked for. The natural uncomplicated love that has proper boundaries. For sure, many of us may not have a fair shot at that appropriate kind of love, but many of us have.
As for my own family, I think I am lucky. Both my husband and I came from homes that fostered the natural kind of love that had the proper boundaries in place. We in turn sought that same kind of love, though that is not to say that each of us had relationships before we married that would have be considered complicated and probably not appropriate. But even then, no children were involved, and for us that was good thing.
One memory that stands out for me is seeing an old high school friend when I was pregnant with our second child. I remembered him saying that he would never have another child because his heart was not big enough to love two children. Throughout the years, that statement has bothered my brain. I never could understand his line of reasoning. For me, my love for each of my children is constant and overwhelming, different, yet the same. I love everyone mentioned above and so many more people and things not mentioned. And there is still room for more!
Our oldest son and I have spoken many times about love and sex and how relationships change once intimacy becomes involved. From childhood crushes, simple to overt flirtations, to a love that withstands time and the trials and tribulations life throws at us. We have discussed the differences in families and how love presents itself in each environment. We have spoken about the love of self, secondary to the welfare of others, to that of self love before loving others. We have discussed healthy vs unhealthy, and always, I have told him to trust his heart. Telling him, "that your heart always knows the truth, even when the brain gets in the way! If it doesn't feel right, it probably is not."
All things impact us and affect how we approach love, how much of ourselves we are willing to give to love and how quickly we fall into it. Imperfect as some of these ways may be, they are still healthier than an inappropriate love that exists in many households. From the lack of love and affection to the inappropriate sexual relationships that make our hearts cringe.
While I may not be an expert on what appropriate love might look like, I think I have a pretty good idea. And what can our normal sense of love do to help those afflicted with the inappropriate kind of love? We can teach and lead by example. We can share our experiences, both the good and the bad, and explain how we handled each scenario and whether or not it was done so with grace or if in hindside we could have done something better. Many ask what difference can one person make? I say plenty. Put yourself out there. Live, love and learn, then teach! Share those experiences with the little people in your life so that they can learn to live in a state of love that is appropriate. It is amazing how some things pay it forward without much work.