Unconditional Love Sometimes Hurts

I have decided to tell you the story before any rumour mill gets going. This story concerns my younger son and his choice of career. I think it has surprised my family that I can be calm and measured about this when they expected me to hit the roof…I think my younger son did as well.

Let’s start at the beginning with him leaving school two years ago after being a school prefect and a mentor figure to many younger people during his last three years at school. His chosen career turned him down because like me, he is dyslexic; quite seriously so. The fire service that he had set his heart on turned him down as modern fire fighters have to be able to read chemical names accurately and fast in incidents. So his life went into freefall.

His brother is now fully qualified in the only thing he ever wanted to be…car mechanic. So he gave that a go but early on in College it was clear his heart was not in it. He qualified as a night club bouncer having many degrees in martial arts. In the UK all bouncers have to be licensed and trained in dealing with conflict and authority issues. At 19 he found himself in charge of the dance floors where he worked with a staff group under him…but this was only weekend work and not a full time job.

From Christmas there was something that he was not telling me…he was afraid to tell me…something he feared might change my opinion of him…and he became secretive. Eventually I upped and asked him straight.

He told me he had applied to join the Army but knowing my views about peace, pacifism and all he had been afraid to tell me. He had been thinking of this for some little while and his girlfriend’s two brothers are both in the services. So that was it. What a relief to have it out in the open.

I told him about the meaning of unconditional love that a father feels for his children. He was free to make his own choices in life and that I as his father would support him all I could…”but Dad that goes against everything you stand for” he said. No I said. It would go against it only if I decided to join the army. He was his own man. Unconditional love means just that. I support him come what may. I support his right to make decisions about his own life and how he wants to live it. My love as a father was over and above all these parameters.

A week ago he completed all the arduous qualifying courses for selection to join the Royal Armoured Corps. He has worked hard to get his fitness and attitude right for the selection board. I have a photocopy of his certificate here in front of me…and as a father I am proud of him…no make that immensely proud of his achievement.

Of course I shall worry about him. What father wouldn’t? But then I have two sons under 25 both driving about in their own cars. And yes I worry. But worry doesn’t change things. He passed and will possibly be getting married to his girlfriend as she wants to go out on postings with him. But we are far from that stage yet. He starts his military training on 19th April. And I have had to re-think my whole life in the last few weeks.

And you know I am still a life-long Pacifist. That has not changed.
And I am still the proud father of my sons. That has not changed.
And I will still support them all I can as they face life’s trials. That has definitely not changed.

Sometimes unconditional love hurts. But I would not have it any other way. Would you?

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Comment by Tiziana Roma on August 6, 2009 at 4:34pm
HI David, I'm new to this, and my English is not perfect, but I'll try to be clear. First of all, my admiration to you, and your DECISION to love your son unconditionally. That´s what perfect love is. One which throws out fear. And isn't PEACE what is all about? Peace in our relationships, first and foremost, which includes respect, tolerance over personal choices that the people around us take every day and many other issues that stem from that marvelous fountain.. PEACE in our homes, before we go to marches and meetings outside, claiming for the thing we lack at home? I live in Mexico, and maybe you've heard that we've had a lot of violence in the last few years, since the president of my nation decided to go against the drug Cartels. And guess who´s at the front lines, giving their lives for the PEACE within our borders... THE MILITARY. So, as far as I'm concerned, when I see them in their trucks, me and my children wave at them, and if I have the chance, I also pray for them, thanking them for their courage. Mind you, I also pray for the drug dealers, asking my God to forgive them and to reach them in His love. Maybe this will serve you to ease your soul, and maybe sometime in the future your son will have a grateful mom pray over him and thank him for being there. Humbly, Tiziana
Comment by David Gould on August 1, 2009 at 8:56pm
Martin's Pass Out Parade was last Friday and of course we were there to see him, all in his beautiful uniform, all marching in perfect step with the military bands playing. He was one of the prize winners so had to step out in front of them all to receive his engraved tankard...as a father I was so very very proud of him and what he has achieved. As a Pacifist I could not believe I was sat applauding a bunch of armed men surrounded by all the machines of warfare...and to be fair I had removed my CND badge for the day. He goes this Monday onwards to stage two in Dorset (England) to learn how to drive and shoot with tanks...all an alien lifestyle to me...I will continue to pray for the day when such things are not needed any more...every blessing with your son and his training.
Comment by Colette Morgan on July 31, 2009 at 11:54pm

I too have a son, he is 19, also dyslexic, and 3 months ago joined the Army, he is training at the moment, his pass out will be in November....like you I worry but....as you so rightly put it, they are their own people. I will always support my three children in their chosen careers, that is what being a parent is to me. My choices aren't their choices and I would be horrified if someone chose my career for me. So my they stay safe and our unconditional love will remain just that.....with love & hugs xx
Comment by Leah D (Pixie) on June 22, 2009 at 7:00pm
Dearest David~ each time I read yer story here(and recently Tree's reply) I have so much emotions, firt is how beautiful it is that you & son can have yer differences and Son(s) unconditional love and respect of differences remain. But Like Tree my only son has chosen to not accept my unconditional Love,given him freely..even though the man he has grown up to be is not a very nice,honest caring person. I accept him as is,he however chooses not to accept me nor have much to do with me ay all, many years now. I don't really understand it, he won't talk to me. The pain this causes me is/was unbearable as we were once so very close. I had to distance myself from theese emotions so as not to cause me further distress nor any negativity in my life..yes as Tree & some others said..I truly wish my 1 & only child could read this!! Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful and personal story
much love n peace , Leah
Comment by Tree Thunderchild on April 24, 2009 at 9:12am
I'm glad for you David, and wish my own son's would read this....
One of my son's is a minister, he knows how I feel about "freedom of religion" regarding ALL religions, and as a result it seems, he has distanced himself from me for very very many years.
My love for him is unconditional, though not so sure my feelings for freedom of religion are ones that are shared, he wont even open up enough with me to talk with me about it.......
So it is, not only your wisdom of unconditional love, but that your son does not put distance between you, because his views and or actions may take a different path, even if towards the same goals.
I would leave a tribute of respect for your teaching him, but with so many of respect here for you, would like to add something a bit different, concerning respect from your son, in honor of him, and his acceptance of your differences also, that love may still remain, it is a good thing to be so blessed with such a son !
Your friend Tree
Comment by sant on March 8, 2009 at 6:53pm
Let everyone be blessed with a Dad like you.
Comment by Wanda Wilson on February 28, 2009 at 8:16pm
You're a terrific Dad ...
Comment by Caz* on February 26, 2009 at 12:31pm
Hiya David, I have the S.I.A badge in the UK and have done similar work to your son in the past. The Security Industry in the UK does not gaurantee a lot of success in that it is a full time job, more like a free-lancer joining independant agencies to work on contracts. I have done 'the doors' in the past year in the UK, and before that a site security patroller. That he was guiding his own staff in the end, sounds like he was dedicated to the job, albeit, it is a loners job, but still he had a passion for his work and took it a step further and will be the same kind of man in the army I am sure. But nevertheless, he is learning to use guns and weapons now, and very different from 'the doors' of a nightclub, it is unknown terriorty, I take it you are in the UK? so he could get called up at anytime. All you can do is be the strong father that you are and 'just be dad' when he needs you.

Comment by Dirk Boehmer on February 19, 2009 at 7:07pm
Dear David,

being a father of four sons I know exactly what you are talking about and I can sense all your inmost emotional "dissonances" in this case....

Meaning.ful and peaceful sharing of beliefs and feelings means to respect and esteem each others unimitability and uniqueness as an individual person....and as a freewilled personality.

Which you fully did! Chapeau! ;-)

David, if in this highly sensitive question of principle your son does exert sound and true response.ibility by honestly answering the spiritual questions HIS life path is asking him right now (instead of him later asking life for giving him the right answers as to a potential spontaneous“me-too displacement activity”), he will certainly live a virtous and meaning.ful life…..

All you can do is to help him to ask his SELF (not his Ego!) the right inmost and mind.ful questions! ;-)

The same time you should count on your innate spiritual light that your sound and mature virtues and decorums which you radiate as a father will always be the safe haven, anchor, lighthouse and the firm rock in potentially adverse seas deep within your son’s heart.....

Because what emotional and parental succour is basically all about, is (to my understanding) mainly “just” Love, Trust & Grace.....

Our parental LOVE lies in its pure uncondionality, in the sense of help for mature self-help, i.e. helping your beloved ones to become what they can become (not what they shall become, since the latter is anchored in their own quiet conscience).
And love to someone else will be highly leveraged when you truly love yourSELF and firmly stand by you and your own mission and values as you do!
(see also my respective blogs on Self-Awareness and Self-Love: http://www.ipeace.me/profiles/blog/list?user=3r0b373vh175t )

Our parental TRUST implies deep respect in the ability of our kids to exert self-awareness (even feasible in younger ages below the age of 10), provided that we exemplify it through our own figurehead-habitus, i.e. being upright, honest, self-critic, apologetic, forgiving etc.

Finally, parental GRACE implies to carefully listen to the kids’ propensities and wishes and not only trying to understand the messages they try to convey to us, but mainly to comprehend and respect their underlying dreams, hopes and spiritual missions which drive them….
(see also my blogs on the “Next Generation Z” and “How can we better the world for our kids?”)

David, you have acted truly wise in this regard. But I also trust that your son will feel both your unbroken inmost pacifistic mission and your respect and your trust for his own life decisions… This will be his guiding spinal lighthouse and solid spiritual backbone for his future and his own kids! ;-)

Be blessed,
Comment by pilar g on February 18, 2009 at 10:32pm
Hi David, thanks for sharing this story with us. I agree with you that sometimes love may hurt and that you will worry about your son,.. but even when you both have different point of views, I think it is great to give him the opportunity to try on his own, to assume the consequences of his acts, to respect his opinions though different from yours and show him that even so, you love him inconditionally. This lesson belongs to love as well and to respect for a human being. I am sure your son will appreciate it. Love and peace for you both. PilarG

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