Love Is...

February…the month of love…is a traditional time that we celebrate the ones we treasure in our lives. And while Valentine’s Day conjures up thoughts of candlelit dinners, walks on the beach and cards filled with words of endearment, the importance of expressing love to our family…and of teaching the value of love to our children…is one we may need to incorporate more in our daily relationships all year long.
We know that we, as parents, have an incredible influence on our children and the way we model our love for each other serves as an example for our kids. We have a huge responsibility to our children to help them learn and understand some of the intrinsic characteristics in developing and sustaining healthy and loving relationships.  We can find inspiration from the many lessons we know in the Bible such as the ones found in 1 Corinthians 13:4:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  
Love is patient: In our crazy life filled with appointments, athletic practices and games, lessons, homework, meals to prepare and daily tasks, it is easy to become rushed and impatient as our little ones take time (a lot of time!) to dress, brush their teeth, tie shoes, ask questions (and more questions) and just gather themselves. They will take note of and appreciate our actions to stop, take a breath, and wait for them rather than hurry them along. We can help them to understand that slowing down, listening intently, answering all questions and helping others is showing the love, acceptance and patience we should have for each other;
Love is kind: Our children watch the way we interact with people all day long. They are influenced by the way we speak with our spouses, our own parents and family, strangers, people at the store, in the school, our friends, their friends.  Do we speak with kindness? When discussing things with our spouse, are we kind or do we raise our voice? Do we hug and kiss and hold hands and are we quick to show our respect and love with each other? Do we assume good will and anticipate that our loved one is doing the best they can in all situations? Do we allow this same presumption for our kids as we do for the adults in our lives? These actions can speak volumes as we attempt to model our kindness and love toward one another.
Love is pure: While small children may not be able to comprehend the importance of purity and faithfulness in love, as they grow and become teens, it is important to help our kids understand that a person who loves them will never dishonor them or make them do something they don't want to do. These lessons can be taught through words, example and years of watching your own faithfulness and loyalty to your family.
Love is selfless: Examples of generosity can be seen daily...offering the last cookie or the comfortable spot on the couch or watching you and your husband/wife take care of each other, volunteering your time or reaching out to those in need are gestures our kids will tune in to as they take notice of your selflessness toward others. They will learn by your actions that being generous through both word and deed is important to developing enduring relationships and expressing our love.
Love forgives: Just as we, as adults, trust and rely on God's grace, we need to be quick to reassure our children that nothing they do will ever change our love for them.  It is important that they know we will not hold grudges and that, while it is natural to have disagreements in any important relationship, these differences of opinion or behaviors will never affect the love we will hold for them forever and always. 
As we celebrate our love for each other all year long…and especially on the day of love, February 14th, what are some fun ways to include our kids in the Valentine's Day fun?  Perhaps you might consider some of these ideas celebrating the joy of love:
    We know from our relationships with each other, and with God, that to love and be loved is truly a most powerful gift. During this month, and throughout the year, resolve that each and every day you will tell the ones you cherish just how much they mean to you and how grateful you are to them for the joy and love they add to your life!
    Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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