Women with Children
Virginia Heffernan

Good/Bad parent? Unconditional Love

I applaud attempts to free ourselves from psychological traps. They come in every shape and size. They’re usually baited with a (un)healthy dose of shame. Mostly they’re just so damaging! Too often we critique ourselves so harshly that we fail to remember we’re human — imperfect. We make mistakes and we’re worthy of Love of anyway. This is a critical concept. But really? There is no such thing as Good or Bad Mother (or Father)? I simply couldn’t accept such a statement on face value.

I understand the intent of the message. Allow yourself your imperfections. I have been married three times now and have ten children in my care…I know all about imperfections. I believe in forgiveness. But perhaps I have a uniquely jaded perspective. My first wife ended up going to jail a few years after we divorced. Three counts of attempted murder of our son and another three counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child on our daughter. She qualifies as a BAD Mother…but that’s just because she is a bad person, who, in her role as a Mother, did very bad things. Awful things. The irony here is, if she had been willing to forgive herself of her lesser imperfections, she never would have ended up making the big ones. Her self inflicted shame came after the sex abuse she suffered as a teen. Shame begets shame.

Unconditional Love is the chief principle of true Christianity. It is one of the pillars of Buddism. The principal is the true liberator, and is the undercurrent of the article I’m responding to. …I’m just not willing to go so far as to say that NO behavior is bad. I do, however, fully support the idea that you ought to Forgive anyway! Why forgive? It doesn’t exonerate them. It doesn’t mean that suddenly bad behavior is now ok. It also doesn’t mean you have to tolerate someone doing bad things to you again. Forgive because letting go of the hurt, lets you stop hurting. Its really that simple.

Just let go. Love others without condition. Let the feeling of well wishing for all mankind eminate from your soul. Suddenly you begin to see everyone for who they are. The scary looking person who is likely on drugs, looks filthy and you naturally want to avoid…there is a soul in there. A human heart beats in that chest. If they’re locked down its probably under layer upon layer of shame. Don’t label them and walk away. Feel their plight enough to begin to feel something for them. That frazzled Mother dragging a screaming child through Wal-Mart? She has a story too. Hopes. Dreams. Love her too. Feel her pain. Instead of offering her a glare, feel your heart show her a knowing smile. You were once that kid — or maybe you’ve been that mother. Maybe both.

After you’ve settled into this feeling of good intentions for all, now realize that YOU also deserve to be Loved in the very same way — most of all, by you. Love yourself. Allow yourself your errors. See the shame you’ve been buried under. See the traps that have been laid over your voice. Your Actions. Your judgement. Now throw them off and invite them to never return.

But Is there Good and Bad? yes. Can a person be, Good or Evil? Yes. Wouldn’t that be a conditional statement?

While it may seem an oxy moron, the conditions God requires of us are the earmarks of unconditional love. The ten commandments are summarized in Christ’s statement about which is the most important law — To Love God and our Neighbor as ourself.

These commandments are not conditions upon which God does or does not Love us. He loves us, there is no question. These are conditions upon which we can build a foundation of a Good life. Give honor to higher power. Respect your elders. Don’t murder anyone. Don’t Steal. Don’t lie. Don’t waste your time wanting other people’s stuff. Seems pretty straight forward…but if you aren’t Loving yourself based on failure to follow these tenants, then you’ve misunderstood the purpose. The purpose is to elevate yourself. Follow these 10 commandments (at least) and watch how your life becomes more enlightened.

Don’t listen to SHAME. Don’t succumb to abuse. Truth is that we all need to take ownership of our mistakes AND quit hating ourselves for them. Love yourself enough to expect yourself to be great AND forgive yourself for not being great in every way in every moment.