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Who Do You Love More?
August 20, 2008
I made my children cry. A short time ago my son and daughter came to me and Abby, representing both of them, I suppose, asked the kind of question little girls ask. It was a question they must have been thinking, or perhaps arguing, about. “Daddy, who do you love more, Mommy or us?” I thought for just a moment and told them the truth. They cried.
The fact is, I love their mother more than I love them and I told them as much. I did so gently and lovingly but with confidence that I am right to feel this way. I love my children desperately. I love them with the kind of love that wants only the best for them and which seeks to protect them from the pain and anger and evil that are so prevalent in this world. I pray for them continually, asking that God would protect them even from me and from my ineptitude and sin and ignorance. I never chose to love my children. From the moment Aileen and I learned that they were growing inside her, I loved them. I spoke to them and sang to them and prayed for them before they were born; I walked the house with them night after night when they were tiny; I love them fiercely and love to spend time with them. And still their mother has first place in my heart.
There are undoubtedly different kinds of love and we cannot necessary equate the passionate, romantic love I have for my wife with the parental love I have for my children. Where I never chose to love my children, I did choose to love Aileen, or I did as much as anyone can exercise his will in such matters of the heart. There came a time when I set my heart on her and committed myself to loving her for better or for worse.
When my children asked me who I loved more, I explained to them that the primacy of my love for their mother is a good thing that will give stability to all of our lives. They may be too young to really understand this, but some day it will make sense to them. If I were to love my children more than my wife, I might allow them to stand between me and her; were I to love them more, I might allow them to disrupt my relationship with my wife and divide our family. I have seen that happen in too many families. Because mom and dad are not first and foremost committed to each other, a child can stand between them and divide them. Too many family have been torn apart in exactly this way. Mom chooses daughter over dad and the family is ripped apart.
But I am not going to allow this to happen in my family. Because Aileen is my first love, I will not allow anyone or anything to stand between us—even people we love as much as our very own children. Our love for each other does not enter us into some kind of competition with our children; rather, it is an expression of our love and concern for them. It is exactly what they need most to grow up in a stable home where mom and dad will remain together, committed under God to each other and to them. And I pray that some day they will find loving spouses whom they love more than us and more than anyone else.
So tell me. Would you have answered the question as I did? Or is it really the kind of question which, because it crosses categories, should not be answered at all?