Power + Love = Justice

Posted by Samantha on August 3, 2011 in Love |

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

Martin Luther King Jr., American clergyman and civil rights activist (1929 – 1968)


Children have a keen sense of justice.  All those cries of “It’s not fair!” are not specifically designed to annoy parents.  Those cries reflect the innate human need for justice.  And I just love Dr King’s definition of justice.  As a parent, the best use of my power is quite simply correcting everything that stands in the way of love.

I’ve written before of my friend and mentor who, no matter what problem I was having with my children, always asked me the same question: “What would love do Samantha?”

It’s ingrained in me now to ask myself this question when I’m most fed up with my kids.  For a little while that meant my pendulum swung too far towards the sentimental and the anaemic, by which I mean I gave my children too much power and didn’t enforce my standards well enough.

Things have settled down now and I’ve settled into my power as a parent.  Today I do my best to own my power in my relationships with my two children.

I don’t manage to do this perfectly all the time.  Guaranteed, if you throw in a deadline (like, got to leave the house by x o’clock to avoid being late), I’m back in my struggle to make sure that I’m consciously choosing my new behaviours and not reverting to my old.

But I realise as I write this, that what’s happened over time as I practice using my friend’s question whenever I remember it, is that I’ve become essentially a just parent.  Not just a parent, but a just parent.  And I feel a sort of humble awe as I recognise this.

I was very concerned with justice as a little girl.  And my daughter seems to have inherited the activist gene!  Balancing the demands of power and love (which I recognise now is the essence of being a parent) is not something many of us can do well unconsciously – yet.  But I know many of us are trying.

And we are rewarded for our efforts with the love and cooperation of children who can sense that justice is being done.


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