What is love? Tips for Divorced or Separated Parents

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Gary Direnfeld

What is love? Tips for Divorced or Separated Parents

What faith can a child have with love when they have separated parents? We tell the child we love them, we have likely said or inferred that about the relationship to their other parent. Now separation.

Where does love go?

The complexity of this question, these issues, they change with the age and maturity of the child.

To the very young, it may escape them. To the school age child, they may wonder what it says of a parent’s love for themselves. Of the teenager, it may cause wonder about the lasting of future intimate relationships.

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What is love?

Some things may actually be unexplainable, despite doing our best. Sure, there is the phrase that “although I no longer love {other parent} a parent can’t stop loving their child.”

The challenge for the parent is to recognize that this is not a question to be answered once with a phrase or discussion. The answer is one born of experience over time.

With that, the separated parents’ ongoing care, respect and consideration of each other, reciprocal or not, in part answers that question. The child’s experience of the parents’ care and attention to them, also speaks to the answer.

You can also give your child permission to love. That child, fearful of losing a parent’s love may feel the need to align with one against the other. Permission to love both and figure out one’s relationship to each may be a difficult, yet important aspect of understanding love.

Love, to understand it, requires more than explanation It also requires experience of loving behavior.

Next time your child wonders what is love, you may tell them it is caring for another, even when most difficult. It is about putting the needs of the other ahead of your own. It is about comforting when upset. As we so do, that is love.

And with that, then give your child a hug.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 350 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.

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