What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Enjoying a Saturday Foster Parenting class, the topic came up of what appropriate love might look like to a foster child. 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.
So what does appropriate love look like? We all know the answer they are looking for. The natural uncomplicated love that has proper boundaries. For sure, many foster kids and many that will never even make it into the system may not have a fair shot at that appropriate kind of love.
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 been considered complicated and probably not appropriate. But even then, no children were involved, and that is a great 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 my foster kid. 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. But, coming back to the Foster Parenting Class, what can we do to help all the children that grow up not feeling loved? Whether it is through neglect or sexual abuse, these children are, in fact, not loved. What can our normal sense of love do to help those afflicted with the inappropriate kind of love? What can each of us do to make a difference? Ask yourself, what difference can one person make? So again I ask, "what's love got to do with it?" The answer: everything!