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“I Retain the Right to Love You”

A large part of owning-class oppression is that we who are owning class get separated from our families. In particular, the love between parents and children can be lost. Owning-class parents are trained to not show their caring, to undermine and abandon their children, and to ignore their children’s needs. So it is understandable that as the grown children of owning-class parents we often feel justified in not liking our parents or in not being willing to show caring. (As young children, it was our best defense in the face of the oppression.)

Unfortunately, this is capitulating to the oppression. When we hang on to this perspective, we agree to give up on the inherent love that exists between people, and in particular between parents and children. The direction I have found useful lately in sessions is, “You can abandon and humiliate me. You can put your own self-interests ahead of mine again and again, but you cannot control my heart. I retain the right to love you.”

I have found it is important for me to specify, “I retain the right to love you,” not just say, “I retain the right to love.” The more general version leaves wiggle room for agreeing to the oppressive message that we don’t care about our parents, that since they never showed us real caring, we don’t have to show it back. I have found that if I use the more general phrase, discharge is diminished and re-evaluation after the session is less.

As young people we inherently love our parents. To lose contact with that is a huge hurt—one that can include losing perspective on our own lovableness, and the goodness of our people.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00