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Why You Should Teach Your Children to Believe in the Romantic Ideal

May 20, 2013, 2:40 PM

If I were to give you advice on what to tell your daughter, who say, is a 13-years-old adolescent, I would definitely present all kinds of options to her as really valid.  I would present the heterosexual family as a model. I would also say should could live a full life as a single person with friends who raise a child whether as a responsible community of adults, or through a partnership with another woman.

Two, I would tell her to distrust the general distrust of love.  I think we live in a culture in which most parents are telling their children that the idea of romantic love in movies and novels should not be trusted.  And of course I am aware of the reason why it should not be trusted but there is also a greatness in that ideal, which I would not want to give up on.

I would invite her to think about what is required for great love.  It could be, for example, that living through life with a person you have come to trust and know deeply would require you, for example, to engage in polyamory - loving other people while having a long-term relationship.  

What I’m saying simply is that I would not dismiss so easily the great ideal of romantic love and of a unique love, and of living one’s life with someone else who you have come to love deeply and care for deeply.  That is something that many teenagers now learn a bit too easily to dismiss because it has become quite cliché.  The cliché is that romantic love is a cliché.

I would also try to teach my daughter not to tie her self-worth to her romantic life. It would be extremely important for me to teach her to disentangle the two. I would tell her very forcefully that her failures are not necessarily due to her own failings or her own lack of objective worth.

I would try to teach her the value of settling down. It’s not a philosophy of resignation; it is a philosophy that would demand that one sees beauty and worth where it exists.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 


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