There Are No Silly Love Songs


Love Songs

The greatest human problem is a want of love, and the simplest antidote is confessing our love—telling people, “I love you.”

Why does anyone need to restate the obvious, since everyone already knows it? Paul McCartney sang,

You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
I look around me and I see it isn’t so
Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs
And what’s wrong with that

Right. There are no silly love songs, it only feels that way. Haven’t I already said this a thousand times? Who needs to hear it again?

I sat last night in a circle of parents. A few times a year I offer to talk with Moms and Dads slogging it out with adolescents who live uneasily under their roof. All the usual problems came up—kids who wouldn’t take out the trash or clean their rooms, the spectre of alcohol, sex, weed, and overexposure on the Internet. But the underlying theme of parental angst in the teen years is simply disconnection. The boy who stays in his room, the girl who doesn’t talk to you anymore. It feels for all the world like this kid doesn’t like you, doesn’t really want you in his or her life.

After an hour or so of discussion I reminded the group that studies continue to show that the most influential person in an adolescent’s life are the parents: Mom and Dad. Immediately I got a few skeptical looks. But it’s true. Peer pressure is enormous and what friends think matters enormously, but for the basic needs of love, affirmation and, yes, even the discipline they know it takes to succeed in school and life, teens look to their parents. You’d never know that by their outward behavior, which is why so many parents live in an emotional stand-off. This aloof kid does not look like he’d accept a hug right now. The girl with the snarly lip this morning clearly won’t accept a kiss.

The most important thing you can do, I said, is to love your kids—tell them how much you love them. Affirm them, bless them. Make it explicit, I said. Hug them. Kiss them, even if they squirm. Say things your child will think are corny, like “You are the apple of my eye,” and “I will always remember the day and the hour you were born,” or “You just look so handsome this morning,” or “You look so beautiful in that dress.”

The key to loving others is to remember how resistant people are to being loved. It is the one thing every human needs to live (remember the infants in hospital nurseries who die for lack of loving touch), yet we are ashamed to show it. Often we believe we don’t deserve it. That is why learning to love others inevitably means learning to know your own deep need and the many defenses you throw up against any incoming waves of love. In other words, you cannot offer love to others if you cannot accept it yourself.

Someone needs to know you love them. Tell them today.


10 Responses to There Are No Silly Love Songs
  1. Michael
    March 23, 2017 | 11:40 am

    The most vital truths are the most common. Which is why we keep forgetting them. If we forget how much our children hunger for our love, or worse, if we assume they’ve outgrown it, we may be lax in expressing it. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Tiffany
    March 23, 2017 | 12:05 pm

    Beautiful David! I’m sorry that we missed last night – our flight was late. But I appreciate these words and couldn’t agree more. I’ve learned that it’s their actions and small words that show me they love and appreciate me. I try to do the same with them … cook their favorite dinner; buy their favorite snacks. Listen when they want to talk at 11 p.m. and I just want to go to bed. These teenagers are wily characters … but really just little kids too.

  3. Melissa Grassmick
    March 23, 2017 | 12:57 pm

    So good, Uncle David. A friend recommended a book to me last year. I don’t agree with everything but it was so helpful as my oldest child was starting the transition into the teenage years. Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood by Lisa Damour
    The book helped me to not take her departure so personally.

  4. Sandy Ryon
    March 23, 2017 | 2:58 pm

    What a wonderful message! Every time that the baptism of Jesus is the day’s lesson, as it was recently, I am reminded of a great sermon you gave a while back at Trinity. You said that you had just told Maggie that you were “well pleased” with her. You obviously practice what you preach!

  5. Don San Jose
    March 23, 2017 | 6:29 pm

    Wonderful words to live by, David!!

  6. sally johnson
    March 24, 2017 | 8:20 am

    “You are the apple of my eye” — my Mother said that to me so often when I was growing up. Sometimes I would think it sounded pretty silly but now as I look back so many years later I can feel how much she loved me. Thank you, David.

  7. sally johnson
    March 24, 2017 | 8:23 am

    “You are the apple of my eye” — my Mother said that to me so often when I was growing up. Sometimes I would think it sounded pretty silly but now as I look back so many years later I can feel how much she loved me. Thank you, David.

  8. Clark Johnson
    March 24, 2017 | 10:31 am

    Motherly love. What a sustaining thing to have through our lives. I will always remember mine and how important it was in so many ways!

  9. Virginia Lovas
    March 24, 2017 | 9:35 pm

    What a wonderful thing to do – meeting with parents of teenagers is so important! Glad you do this.

    In my Nursing Career, I remember spending the night with a young baby who was addicted to a number of drugs following his birth – drugs which entered his placenta prior to birth. I think I held and comforted him all night. Trying to feed him was a nightmare. Was he responsive to being held? Am not sure to this day, but it was so important for his life. I often wonder how he is now.

    God Bless you,

  10. Sandra Oldfield
    March 25, 2017 | 12:33 pm

    I remember telling Lis I loved her and hugging her when she was a snarly, gnarly teenager and having her say, “I’m never going to have kids!” and march off in a huff. The reward in persisting in loving her is watching her lavish her affection on her own children now!

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