Happiness does not come from having much, but from being attached to little.

~ Venerable Cheng Yen ~

People Who Don’t Love Their Kids

March 12th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 27 secs

Kids need practical love.

Talking about love is one thing, but parents not loving their kids? Well, that could be a touchy topic.

Growing up in a rough neighborhood in Melbourne, Australia, I saw a lot of the hard side of life. Some (though by no means most) kids came from troubled backgrounds and it was clear a few parents didn’t love their kids.

Now, I don’t doubt people who have fallen on hard times still love their children. Of course they do. I even believe people who become enmeshed in serious crime and drugs love their kids, or at least feel they do.

But love needs practical expression and kids need that implicitly every day, with clean clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in, nutritious food, and, well… you know the rest.

But parents who:

  • Abandon their children
  • Play cruel games with their trust, or
  • Fail to provide the very basics

aren’t showing love to their children at all. That might seem harsh. But parenting, as you well know, is an all or nothing role. You cannot be a little bit of a parent, and children need to know love at every level.

If somebody feels for their children but does nothing for them or actively hurts them, do they love them? I guess in a politically correct sense they might. But, to me, love desires tangible and credible action. It is never content without being able to help.

So, practically speaking, the parents who steal money from their daughter to pay for their drug habit and then throw her out on the street don’t love her. Nor, does the father who abuses his children love them in a genuinely caring sense.  And neither does the mother who repeatedly abandons her 7-year-old son out in the middle of nowhere to fend for himself. Love and cruelty are not happy companions.

These forms of abuse and neglect leave scars on a child and nobody who loves their own would even dream of doing these things. But they happen and no doubt you’ve come across plenty too.

Love has to have substance. Otherwise, it really is just an emotion that, paradoxically, appears incredibly selfish. If that were the pinnacle of human experience it would be a grim world indeed.

Fortunately, even in the most desperately loveless situations, there is hope. Despite the repeated tragedies of cruelty and neglect, love from someone else who genuinely cares can have a powerfully healing effect.

Nurture that’s solid, stable, and accepting has been shown to bring people back from the brink. So it’s never too late to love people damaged through abuse. Let’s not keep saying, “The damage has been done and nothing else can be done”. Because there is evidence to prove that’s not true and that nurture has healing properties, whatever our age.

Love, in this very tangible sense, is what we all need.  So in case you are feeling a shortage  of love expressed in your life, then it’s likely people around you are too. Instead of pining in its absence, perhaps that lack could become a catalyst. Maybe you can show the kind of care you wish for and use it to comfort others. You could think of it as “personal therapy”; a way of making life kinder by generating kindness around you.

In small ways such as these, you can make the world a better place (at least in your personal patch) and bring a little healing where love is sadly lacking.


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