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Hey Dad, Which One Do You Love the Most?

Hey Dad, Which One Do You Love the Most?

Recently I overheard some mothers discussing – well arguing really – about a parent’s love. The conflict was based on answering the strange question some parents are asked, “Which child do you love the most?” One mother was claiming the other was lying because the other said she couldn’t choose.

Nor could I.

“Which child do you love the most?” Children are usually quick to answer that question, and rarely do they make that claim of themselves. They swear it’s a sibling—or maybe the family pet.

I, too, have been asked this question. It stumps me. Love one more? Love one less? I can’t fathom an answer to the question. And a wise parent will never play that game, because that’s sure to impact our families in a negative way, and to foster resentment in the hearts of our children.

Sure, I admit, there are times I may have a level of pride in one’s current accomplishment, but that doesn’t define love.

At times, pleased more with the actions of one – yes.

At times, disappointed in the actions of one – sure.

At times, frustrated with one more than another – sure.  Like when we were going through the terrible twelves (we didn’t have the terrible twos).

But, if I was ever able to impart an assumption of unequal love, it only means I haven’t the true definition of love.

What is love?

While preparing this post, I heard a sermon that, in part, spoke of the unconditionality of God’s love. The preacher shared the following; “God loves the sinner and the saint equally, but he won’t spend too much time bragging about the sinner’s life.”

Parents can sometimes fall into the culture’s definition of love. When you stop pleasing me, I will stop loving you. Successful fathering is far above that shallowness. Yes, I can be more pleased with one than another at times. I can be disappointed with one and not another on any given day. But the love aspect doesn’t change—and there’s no better security for our children than that.

If we understand the truth of love, to be asked the question is an insult. To try and answer the question an is an impossibility—except to say to your children, “You’re all my favorite.”

By: Dave Trouten is the married father of two teenage boys and a Division Chair & Professor of Communication at Kingswood University.

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