How can parents teach their children to love? Is it something that can be taught?
Do you find it uncomfortable to show public display of affection for your spouse? Did you grow up not seeing your parents display affection? How can we teach children how to love? The reality is how you show love to your spouse affects your children.
Children get their first glimpse and idea about love from their parents. For the first half of their lives, they will think that the way their parents show love is normal. They might only start wondering once they start dating for themselves.
So what really is love? It is not one day a year show of affection aka valentines day. Love is a decision, a lifestyle and it is deliberate. Since they learn how to love from home why not make it easy for them to know what true love is?
Instead of making it a family affair to watch big brother Africa, why not watch shows with positive messages.
No Shade intended. Today we have more choices for entertainment than we can probably ever watch! So choose to watch things that educate, entertain and motivate. I personally love channels like discovery family, we watched a show recently called “how the world was made’ and we learned about so many inventions that were the result of simple people who thought of solutions to simple problems.
Some of these were John Dunlop who invented tyres as a result of his son’s difficulty in riding his bicycle, Henry Ford who came up with the idea of the assembly line from a visit to a butcher’s shop or Mrs Benz who pushed through the invention of the car in Germany! Talk about learning in a fun way. Teaching children how to love includes showing them or discussing ways to show non-romantic love.
What Is Love? How Do You Show It?
1. Love is patient
Teaching children to love includes understanding the importance of being patient. Love is not hasty. It doesn’t seek revenge, it’s not quick to get angry and lash out. It is easy to get annoyed, but it takes more control to be patient even when someone annoys you. One of the best ways to model patient love for your children is how you talk to your spouse. Are you always snapping, nagging or arguing? This does not show love. When you are a patient with your spouse, you will be patient with your children and they will, in turn, be patient with their siblings. So the next time you are tempted to be impatient or hasty with your comment, pause and let love take over.
2. Love is kind
what does it mean to be kind? It means to be friendly, gentle, warm-hearted and helpful. Especially in our culture today where people are impatient and stressed out, choosing to show kindness both at home and outside goes a long way. Think about little ways to show kindness to each other. Your children are watching. Do little acts of kindness for your spouse every day.
3. Love is gracious
This means not jealous, it means rejoicing with other people. Imagine a scenario where another student wins an award that your child was eyeing. The way you behave makes a big impression on your child. Rather than comments like “don’t mind the organizers” or “you should have won instead” model graciousness by congratulating the other child and encourage your child to do the same. When children see their parents share kind words and congratulate people on their achievements they will learn to celebrate with others.
4. Love is not too busy
Love is not negligent, too busy or arrogant and draws people towards you. Your home can be such a haven of love that when people visit they feel at peace. This is one powerful way to teach children how to love. So the way you behave towards each other sets the tone for your children. Spend quality time with each other. Rather than being so busy with work, be intentional and make time to spend quality family time together. Children spell love as time. Let them see you do things for your spouse just because. You can watch your spouse’s favourite show just to show love.
5. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Your children watch you more than they hear you. So if they see you talking about people or partaking in unwholesome things this does not show love. Don’t rejoice when people go through tough times, such as saying things like “good for them they deserve that“.
6. Love does not keep score
Stop keeping records of wrongdoing. Saying you won’t forgive because they did something to you 3 months ago is not how to model love. So don’t murmur or complain about your spouse either. There is a healthy way to deal with disagreements, deal with it in a respectful way and move on.
At the end of the day, your marriage and the home is the best learning ground and training school on love. When children see you model love like this, they will know how to show love and will know what to look out for. Love does not demand its way or make you do things that make you feel uncomfortable.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23
Your home and marriage should model these fruits. [Read: What is Good Parenting]