Evoking the Parent-Child Relationship

Thursday, July 12, 2001
Evoking the Parent-Child Relationship
By Lynnea Pruzinsky Mumola

In a departure from her work in international politics, Catholic University associate professor, Maryann Cusimano Love visited several local Catholic schools before the end of the year to share her first children’s book, You Are My I Love You.

In the beautiful tale, the author uses delicate poetry to describe parental love. “I am your parent; you are my child. I am your quiet place; you are my wild,” she writes. Through the story, readers visit the day in the life between parent and child. “I am your praying hands; you are my saying grace,” Cusimano Love writes. From waking, through play time to bath and dinner time, the author’s verse is illustrated by the watercolors of Satomi Ichikawa, with a giant teddy bear depicting the parent and a small teddy bear as the child. For Cusimano Love, the book highlights the need “to see God in our families and in our children.”

Published last April, Cusimano Love said she has been surprised by the response to her book. Already You Are My I Love You, is a featured selection on the Children’s Book of the Month Club and is on the Barnes and Noble Children’s bestseller’s list. The rights have been purchased to translate the story into German, Japanese and Korean, which for the professor of international relations is extra special. In addition to visiting schools, her book has been used in children’s liturgies in at least two local parishes. Although she didn’t anticipate using the book during Mass, Cusimano Love acknowledged that the story can still be a good fit. “Prayer is mentioned as part of daily life,” Cusimano Love said. “As well as that constant love between parent and child being the same type of love that God has for us as His children.”

During her visits to Catholic schools, Cusimano Love said she tells the children they could do anything and always asks them about their wishes and prayers. Currently she is working on two sequels to “You Are My I Love You,” as well as some other children’s stories.

A life-long Catholic, and native of Bethlehem, Pa., Cusimano Love’s father is the secretary of education for the Diocese of Allentown, Pa. Cusimano Love attended Catholic school and recalled growing up with the stories from her uncle, a Jesuit missionary stationed in Nigeria. The author earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, a master’s degree from the University of Texas and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

The associate professor also teaches graduate courses at the Pentagon. Cusimano Love is a specialist in U.S. foreign policy, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the International Policy Committee to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, an advisor to U.S. foreign government officials and to the Jesuit order on globalization and U.S. foreign policy. Her books include Beyond Sovereignty: Issues for a Global Agenda and Unplugging the Cold War Machine: Globalization and U.S. Foreign Policy.

She and her husband live in the District after getting married last October in Rome. They are parishioners at St. Aloysius Parish, N.W., where Cusimano Love is an active parish volunteer with the PeaceKids group. The volunteers work regularly with children living in the Sursum Corda housing projects.

Cusimano Love said she wrote “You Are My I Love You” after visiting with the children. “It came from a desire to underline what’s really important for parents and kids,” she said. “All they want is time and attention — we need to be there for them.” She advises parents to not measure themselves against the images seen on television, just be a presence to their children. “The best gift parents can give to their children is the gift of themselves,” Cusimano Love said. “It’s not glitzy or high tech, but reminds us that spending time together is a blessing, and is the key to building healthy communities, whether in our families, the church, or at the international level.”

YOU ARE MY I LOVE YOU by Maryann Cusimano.
Philomel Books, New York, NY.
Hardcover, $15.99.