Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thoughts on Love and Respect

I have been thinking some about love and respect lately. And by "respect" I mean the definition: "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements."

My great-grandmother Gertrude always used to say that you should marry someone you admire because you can always love someone you admire but you can't always admire someone you love.

While it is optimal to BOTH love and respect or admire those close to us, I have been thinking about which is more important in which relationships, love or admiration/respect.

My mom pointed out in our weekend together that she thinks that it is more important for our children and youth to respect us than love us. I think she is right in this point. Children can get mad at their parents or leaders. That is a natural aspect of a relationship where one has a stewardship to discipline and lead another. But if the child admires her parent or teacher she is more likely to listen to her counsel. She is also going to place more value on positive reinforcement.

Take Simon from American Idol for example. I am sure there are many of the contestants on that show who don't really "love" Simon. But I think most of them admire him and when HE gives a positive comment they know they have done really well.

So I think respect or admiration for our elders is paramount. I think if you have that respect the love follows naturally or at least is fairly easy to develop to some degree.

Looking at the parent to child relationship I would think the converse is true. It is far more important to love our children than to respect or admire them. I don't know that I really feel respect and admiration for my children. They are young and growing. They don't have many talents and abilities cultivated yet that I do not have. Maybe this will change as the years pass. But for now I feel sheer absolute unconquerable love for them.

I think in a parent to child relationship this is so important because love is not conditional. Admiration is. Perhaps someday my child will do something monumentally stupid. Perhaps they will choose to live a life unworthy of my respect or admiration. If my relationship with that child were based on respect, the relationship would wither and perhaps even die. But pure love is unaffected by such circumstances. It lives on even if it takes on the form of pain.

With relationships on an equal level I find I would rather be loved than respected. Don't get me wrong, it is nice to know someone admires me for some reason or another. But respect and admiration are conditional emotions. I would rather know my friend, sibling, cousin, etc... loves me no matter what. That is an emotion I can rely on. That is a relationship I can trust to hold me safe even when I screw up or feel insecure.

When I am feeling weak and insecure, it is to those who I know love me, LOVE me, LOVE ME, that I most quickly turn. It is to them that I can let down my defenses and show my vulnerability and know that I will not risk losing their affections even if I do lose some respect.

I am grateful to have parents I know love me like that. I am blessed to have married a man who both loves and respects me and whom I both love and respect. I hope to be the kind of mother who will be respected and admired by her children. I know I am a mother who loves her children like that. I hope my siblings and all my in laws know that I love each of them. And I think my parents know that I respect and admire them to the ends of the earth and love them no matter what.

Just some of my random thoughts on love and respect ...

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well written. I like these thoughts--it's something I have been thinking about as well. Sometimes I find it hard to love people when I lose respect for them. I need to work on the unconditional love.

Kathy said...

Thank you for these thoughts. Now that three of my daughters are adults, I find myself in awe of their amazing talents. And my twin daughters are turning 16 next week and becoming equally amazing with every passing day. My third daughter took a different path thatn ai would have wished for her and has had to learn some hard lessons over the years. While she lost my respect for some time, my love for her never changed. We are now mending those cracks that have formed in our relationship and as her little girl grows, I think she understands how I felt through those difficult years. I have a new respect for her and the struggles she goes through as a newly single mother and she appreciates me more now than ever.
It has been an amazing journey.

Lori said...

It's a great topic. Just some additional thoughts to share. There is a book with this title written by a Christian author. If you ask women which is more important to receive, most will say love, more men will choose respect. He contends both are given unconditionally due to our humanness.

linda @ Craftaholics Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insights.

Fisher Fam said...

Thank you for this - more than you can know!

Pam said...

I have never commented on you writings before, but I love how you put things into words. This one really hit a spot with me, I guess because we, as a family, just went through something like this. Actually, it was my oldest son who was speaking at his grandmothers funeral last Thursday when he brought up the subject of her oldest grandson and the trouble he has been in and he is currently in jail and not able to attend her funeral. I just cringed when this was brough up, but he brought in her unconditional love for him as well as her love for each and everyone of her grandchildren. He really did a beautiful job and it was really tough for him to deliver. I was so proud of him, he has my love and respect! I know Nanny was so proud of him too.....

cynphil6 said...

Excellent insight.

xoxo

Bonnie said...

What wisdom and insight you have for one so young! I wish I were your next door neighbor, I think we could be fast friends even though I'm a grandma! Your post today helped me understand something important about a relationship I'm dealing with. Thank you so much and please keep talking!

Sue said...

Good thoughts, as always.

It did occur to me as I read your post that we do respect even our small children in the sense of respecting their agency and right to self-determine in this life. When we respect their right to be not only who they are but whom they have always been, we bless their lives immensely.

And I think love always follows that kind of respect.

In my adult relationship, I don't feel loved unless I feel respected. This is part of the package for me.

Thanks for giving me something to think about today.

Tina said...

My church small group read a book together called Love and Respect. It did an amazing thing for our marriage to understand the difference between love and respect.

Rebecca said...

Thank you for such a helpful message. These might be the kind of thoughts that many of us keep to ourselves, not thinking they would interest or apply to anyone else, but this message was both interesting and applicable to me (and, obviously, to many others). I'm so glad you share these ideas on your blog.

Amy said...

It is fascinating isn't it?? There's a GRRRRREAT book by Ester Rasband -- "Confronting the Myth of Self-esteem" -- that I think you would love. She talks about this very subject. She says it's the difference between flattering and rejoicing. I think she's right. That book seriously changed my life. (PS -- I know Scott Porter too! Who does that guy not know! Amazing!)