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Love, I think, is the most sought after emotion by all humans. We crave feeling loved. Many bad relationships happen because people aren’t receiving enough love and go seeking it from any source they can find. Love has the power to change lives, and the absence of love has the power to devastate lives. It is so important that love is spoken here, in our homes.
Love is sometimes so tricky to show to those we love. Part of that trickiness is because love can be shown in so many ways. I read The Five Love Languages for Children by Gary D Chapman and Ross Campbell a while ago and it really helped me understand love better. Some people understand love as time spent together. Some understand love as verbal praise. Some understand love best as physical touch. Others feel loved when they are served. And, still others feel loved when they are presented with a beautifully wrapped present. The first step in making sure love is spoken in our homes is to make sure we understand how our family members understand and experience love.
Once we understand that, we need to actively try to express love in ways that those around us understand and recognize. For my family, that means verbally affirming my fourth grader’s progress on her personal goals or work. It also means that I spend time with my second grader and Kindergartner doing something they like. My preschooler and toddler both need to be cuddled. All of my children also need to be given love in the other ways, too, but when I want them to know they are definitely loved I use the method that speaks to them most directly.
The absence of love can cause such heartache. Children grow up not understanding their value as a person. Often, young men and young women will join violent gangs so that they can feel loved and accepted somewhere. Many times, young adults get mixed up in dangerous behaviors for that very same reason – they don’t feel valued, loved, or accepted by those closest to them, so they seek that validation through other dangerous avenues. These are all the results of children feeling a lack of love in their lives.
So, what can we do? How can we help our children feel loved, valued, and accepted? There are three basic ideas that will help us create the loving relationships our children need to survive this world’s perils.
First, we need to speak with love. As it says in Proverbs 15:1,
A soft answer turns away wrath.
This does not mean we fail to teach our children or help them understand the consequences of their choices. It just means we do so without anger, frustration, or mean-spiritedness. And the same holds true when we speak with our spouses. If we fill our voices with love, then there will not be room for hate.
Second, we need to take the time to notice when our family members are making good choices. Compliments that are sincere and tangible help people know they are appreciated. And, the icing on the cake – telling our children and spouses that we love them, out loud and often, will continue to fill up the need we have for love.
Third, we need to spend time with our family. Traditions help us find reasons to spend time together. Make it a tradition to eat at least one meal together every day. Take the time to spend time relaxing as a family at least once a week. As a family work together, play together, study together, and pray together. Spend time doing things the children enjoy and want to do. All this time spent together will fill each member of the family with love. This is also true for couples – spending time together will strengthen the love that holds the relationship together, even if it’s just sitting on the couch together after the kids are in bed talking about nothing.
There are many other things that we can do to help our children feel loved, but these are the basics. If we can master these, then we will be a long way down the road to creating loving, accepting, and valuing relationships within our families. And love is an amazing thing – the more we give it away to those around us, the more we receive in return. Let’s share the love with our children and spouses by speaking softly to each other, sincerely complimenting each other, and spending time with each other.
Links to other articles about love:
Three ways to help kids learn responsibility, by DaddyCrusader