When I think back to the beginning of my marriage, I think of all the wrong ways I didn’t know how to love my husband. I can’t help but wonder where that thinking came from.
I know we usually express or teach from the very same ideas we were originally taught or from the hard lessons we learned in life. But I don’t want my own children to have to try and figure things out as they go.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.—1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 13
I recently attended the funeral of a dear friend’s aunt, who was more like a second mom to her (and everyone around her). It was truly an amazing homegoing celebration. When you looked around the church, you felt the love from wall-to-wall. As family member after family member got up to speak, each of them told stories about how this incredible woman touched each of their lives with overwhelming love.
When my friend’s dad got up to speak, he talked about the importance of teaching our children how to love. He said way in which his late sister made everyone feel loved and special, it was something that was passed on to her from her own mother. It starts with us. Our children do what they observe. If they observe love, and are treated with love, in turn, love will stand the test of time. You have to teach your kids how to love. And if you don’t know what that looks like or feels like because you didn’t have it, here are three tips to get you started:
Your thoughts have more power than your words. Before you express certain things you may later regret, think about how those words will impact those that you love. Think about how everyone you come in contact with can be affected by your love. When you go about your day, or when faced with different opportunities, think about how everyone involved can come out on the winning side.
Once you’re able to think love, you can then speak love. There is so much power in speaking love into your children every chance you get. Even in the moments of frustration or overwhelming stress, expressing your love to your children can have such a high, positive impact in how they treat and respond to others. Just as you express yourself to your children, allow them to express themselves as well.
When my kids are fussing with each other, my husband and I tell them to talk it out as much as possible. We want them to be able to solve problems as they arise with their words—and avoid the hurtful ones as much as possible. Of course, there are times it goes overboard, but for the most part, they are able to negotiate peacefully.
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When you allow yourself to be the love for your children through your thoughts and your words, it is much easier for you to show them what love looks like. You know that saying “do as I say, not as I do?” Yeah, well, whoever created it was definitely sending mixed signals.
Another reminder at today’s funeral was that our children are always watching us. If we say we love them, but don’t follow that up with loving actions, how is that setting them up for a successful relationship? If they constantly see disrespect and poor communication, that will be the first example they have of what a relationship is “supposed” to look like. I show my kids so much love (through my thoughts and actions) because I know what not having it did to me and my lack of self-esteem growing up.
You have to teach your kids how to love. It is something that will always be with them no matter how far they may travel away from you. It is something that will enhance their future relationships. It’s something you can’t afford not to do. Because guess what? One day, their job will be to teach their own kids how to love, and they’ll now know how to do it the right way.
BMWK, in what ways do you teach your kids how to love?