I was watching an old episode of Little House on the Prairie, one where Laura runs away because she’s done something she’s ashamed of. I remember watching it as a little girl and being surprised that her father came out looking for her. I thought it was perfectly logical. If he was mad at her, then he wouldn’t go looking for her.
As a parent, now I know differently. It wouldn’t matter what happened, I would search for my children until I collapsed. As a child, you can’t comprehend how all-encompassing parental love is. It’s bigger than anything you can conceive of when you’re little.
I know there are twisted people out there who do awful things to their children but for the most part, parents love their kids. Love doesn’t make them know how to do everything, but the intentions are usually in the right place.
But I think parents forget that their children don’t know. They only know their own kind of love, which gets disrupted when they’re angry or upset. (Which is why I think the movie AI got it wrong. The deepest kind of love isn’t a child’s. It’s a parent’s.) It’s believable to them that their parents will stop loving them if they’re bad enough or do something bad enough. It’s believable that a new spouse or a new child could replace them in their parent’s affections.
It’s the saddest part of some kidnapping cases. The abuse the kidnapped child suffers is horrible and sick enough. But they get told that their parents aren’t looking for them, that they’ve been forgotten. It strikes right to my heart. To go through hell and believe yourself abandoned. It’s just about one of the cruelest things I think of to do to another person.
I try very hard to make sure I tell my children often how much I love them. I say it as often as I can think of it and give them hugs and kisses. I’m not perfect. I lose my temper. Dr. Phil says it takes a thousand atta-boys to make up for one insult. So I’m trying to keep up the positive side of the ratio.