Love is a Behavior, Not a Feeling

I have read many comments defending Jon and Kate with the sentiment that "no matter what, they love their kids". I beg to differ. Many of the decisions being made by Jon and Kate are clearly not the decisions of loving parents.

Love is a loaded word in the English language, full of shades and nuances. We use it to refer to everything from the immature warm, fuzzy feelings of affection to an actual commitment borne out by a behavior.

All love begins as a feeling, an amalgamation of pleasurable emotions. Often those feelings never evolve beyond the simple, uncomplicated affection we hold for casual friends and other acquaintances. The love we hold for close friends, parents, siblings, spouses, and other relatives is usually stronger, but more complex and makes us more vulnerable.

The love we hold for our children, however, is incomparable to any other. The child begins life as an infant, and through growth and maturation -- a challenging struggle -- becomes a fully-realized person. The same goes for the love a parent has for a child. It usually begins as a powerful, sweeping, all-encompassing emotion before settling down into a sublime warmth deep in the heart. And while the word "love" is used to refer to those powerful feelings, there is deeper meaning of "love" that goes light years beyond mere human emotion.

The mature, fully-realized picture of parental love requires work and sacrifice. It is a decision and a commitment. A decision to act in the best interest of the child, and a commitment to continue making those decisions even when it becomes very difficult to do so. So when you say, "Jon and Kate love their children.", you could be referring to squishy feelings for their children, but it is doubtful that you are referring to an ongoing commitment to make decisions in the best interests of those children.

The way I see it, the love that Jon and Kate may feel for their children has not yet grown into mature parental love. Mature parental love would never encourage and participate in long-term exploitation. Mature parental love would never publicly mock and ridicule because it makes good TV. Mature parental love would not repeatedly succumb to greed and selfishness at the expense of children's needs -- it would not sell out a child's privacy and dignity for money and material perks or fleeting fame.

Mature parental love is a behavior, not a feeling. An ongoing, selfless commitment demonstrated by specific behaviors -- far more mature (and more difficult) than just enjoying a warm fuzzy feeling. And considering that narcissistics are pathologically incapable of mature parental love, I don't see Kate growing in this area any time in the near future.

Heading South / Wild Horses

TLC is airing two new Jon & Kate Plus 8 episodes tomorrow night (Monday August 11th).

The first is a 30-minute feature starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern titled Heading South:
Jon and Kate want to combine a speaking engagement in the South with a family trip to the beach, so they pack up for the drive, but the long car ride may pose a challenge to the sextuplets.

The second is a 30-minute feature starting at 9:30 p.m. Eastern titled Wild Horses:
Jon and Kate take the kids on a ride in a Jeep as they track wild horses along the beach. Later, a climb up a lighthouse reveals one of them is afraid of heights.

Interesting comment from Corolla Outback Adventures (emphasis added):
Jon and Kate Gosselin of TLC's "Jon and Kate Plus 8", recently brought their twins and sextuplets on a working vacation.

The fruits of that work, featuring staff from Corolla Outback Adventures, will be shown Monday, Aug. 11 at 9:00 p.m. on The Learning Channel. The Gosselin kids will supply the adventures.