“If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather than for our own.”
― Charlotte Brontë, The Life of Charlotte Brontë
Here’s something a little bit related to what I was thinking about yesterday. This quote of Charlotte Brontë is a good description of how we should love our kids and spouses, too.
It’s pretty normal for people to see everything in the world as an extension of themselves to some degree. I mean, we experience everything through our own perspective, but can only imagine things through someone else’s perspective.
As humans, social creatures for whom relationships are of the highest importance, it usually comes easier to base those relationships on our own experiences of them. So with my kids, Molly and Sam, for instance, it’s more comfortable to judge my success as a parent by the good times we have that center on things I like. In movies and on TV, you know you’re seeing a good parent because families are smiling and having a good time together.
Setting things up so that everyone can have a good time together is an important part of parenting, but the complete picture includes more. Parents and children alike have to be willing to put their own interests aside sometimes and remember that loving, happy families don’t just look for the fun things they get out of one another, but also look for the things they can do for one another even when it’s not a blast.
At least, that’s what I remind myself when I’m walking Molly to Girl Scouts in the snow even though I’m tired. What this quote really comes down to is making the choice to live as though our friends and loved ones are just as real as we are even though we can never really experience that.