- Gender and Relationships»
Love Comes Full Circle: The Importance of Family Love
The urge to love and be loved is one we are born with. But how we love is something we learn, and how we experience love is shaped by our past experiences and by those we care about. For many, the word “love” brings to mind romantic love, yet our first love is not a romance. Our first experience with love is the love shared between parents and children. The family is the foundation of any individual’s ability to love and accept love. This is not only because it is the first love one experiences as a newborn; parenthood is also an essential part of the human experience.
Family and love are inextricably intertwined. Good parenting is not only about raising intelligent, well adapted children but about raising well loved children. From our own parents, we learn a great deal about family life and family relationships, including love, and that learning shapes us. And the family never stops guiding and perfecting our experience of love. Just as our mother’s love profoundly affected us as children, so too does motherhood affect women and teach them a new facet of love. And of course fatherhood changes men as well. Experiencing parenthood as part of a couple doesn’t just teach us the profound love parents feel for their children, but also expands and deepens the love between parents.
Despite this, bearing children seems to have become less of a priority for modern families. Home buying, degree finishing, career advancing, social climbing… these things seem almost to have eclipsed parenting altogether. Couples are choosing to have children later in their lives, or often not at all, and the birth rate is dropping. Overlooking the importance of family and children when measuring success can be a mistake. Paychecks and social status are not the essential ingredients of success. The true measure of success is happiness, which depends so much upon love. And family and love go hand in hand. Children represent love coming full circle: the love we learned from our parents, transformed into the romantic love between partners, and reaching its full potential in creating our own families.
When researching parenting advice, love is only given superficial treatment. Of course, a new baby brings many changes to daily life—disrupted sleep schedules, diaper changing—but the most important change is the transforming power of love. When we become parents, we first experience the unconditional love only a parent can feel. We shoulder the responsibility of teaching a brand new human being the critical importance of love. And we meet our partner in a new role, as mother or father.
By becoming parents, a couple takes on the most important task they will ever face. Raising children completes a family. This isn’t only a matter of numbers or definitions, but the fact that experiencing parenthood completes our understanding of love and our lives as individuals. There is no worldly success that is as important or satisfying as the success of sharing a happy family life with those we love most.