By Angry Shrink on October 18, 2012
I like to believe in the idea of unconditional love. It's a beautiful idea and I usually think of the love that exists between parent and child as the ultimate example of it. At least, that's what it's supposed to be. Growing up on Disney movies I was taught that anyone can find unconditional love. As long as they were a princess and had some sort of horrible kidnapping/dragon-napping issue. Living in a tower was optional but preferred.
Apparently, Disney...is kind of a liar. I mean, they're great movies and I must admit, the music isn't half bad either (Under the Sea anyone? Just saying...)
The thing is, as I grow older and see more and more the things people do to each other, and themselves, in the name of love the less patience I have with bad decisions and selfishness. You see, people seem to think that just because they have contributed DNA to the life of a child, they are automatically entitled to that child's unconditional love.
I'm here to tell you, that is a crock. Don't believe the hype. Nobody deserves or receives unconditional love if they haven't held up their end of the bargain. Unconditional love cannot exist in a vacuum. If you don't feed and care for your relationship the way you would with a rose bush, you're not going to get the love you want. If you're not aware of that you have definitely missed a memo.
What I have learned, through my practice and my life experiences is that there really is no such thing as a free lunch.
Relationships are a PRIVILEGE. They are not a right. You are not entitled to have a relationship with anyone, your children included. If you play games with the love your children have for you, they will one day wake up and see you for the selfish fraud that you are. They will be furious with you and ultimately, reject you. If your children are young and they see and hear things from you that are cruel, neglectful, abusive, or otherwise inappropriate, they aren't going to want to be around you. If you threaten your children, your spouse, or you ex-spouse with ridiculous court battles, or refuse to pay child support or follow court orders, they will not want anything to do with you. If you can't be consistent and call or visit when you are supposed to, if you make promises and don't keep them, they will resent you deeply.
And the worst - if you play the victim and refuse to treat your children with compassion, refuse to put their needs ahead of your own, and blame the whole world - them included - for your unhappiness and bad decisions, you don't deserve a relationship with them. You are doing nothing but destroy their childhoods and ensure I will never run out of clients.
Like all privileges, you can and will lose them based on your performance. Once those children (or friends or family members, work colleagues, confidantes, etc.) realize that you are not equal partners in your relationship and that you don't value them above your own selfishness, your privileges will be revoked. And good luck getting them back. Once a door is closed, it takes ten times the effort to crack it back open.
And let's face it, your track record? Sucks.
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