Teaching Your Child To Love from the Christian Parenting Corner at Families Online Magazine
From the Christian Parenting Corner
Teaching Your Child To Love
Not Just On Valentine’s Day
Not Just On Valentine’s Day
by Sylvia Cochran
Valentine’s Day is behind us, and with it came the class-room parties, the requests to send your child to school with blank Valentine’s Day cards, and, of course, the seemingly bottomless bags of heart-shaped candy, cookies, and napkins. Yet, the Christian parent must examine what the child’s true understanding of love is.
- Does your child see love as a feeling in her/his tummy ?
- Is it an emotion more fleeting than a Monarch butterfly?
- Has s/he been taught God is love , and thus parrots the phrase whenever asked what love is?
- Or does s/he understand love to be a decision?
Whatever your child’s understanding of love may be, as a Christian parent you must make sure that it is in harmony with the Bible.
Luke 5:13 … Teach love through contact
Jesus, who could have stayed on the other side of the street and just wave His hand in the general direction of the leper, chose to reach out His hand and touch the man. Unheard of in the society of the time, and quite possibly endangering Him to be shunned as well, Jesus nonetheless loved others through close contact. Jesus did not heal others with an ulterior motive, such as in order to gain followers; instead, He healed them because there was a need and He knew He was the man to meet that need.
Ask yourself … do you put yourself in positions where you help someone physically? It is good and commendable to donate money or clothes, but what about the personal contact? Do you seek out opportunities to demonstrate your love for others by reaching out and physically lending a hand? Opportunities abound: Sunday school at church, the Salvation Army, the local homeless shelter, the local soup kitchen, the parent in need of a babysitter, etc. By demonstrating to your child that your love is something so tangible that it can be felt and experienced by others, your child will come to understand that love exists within the context of relationships, and thusly requires a commitment to the relationship.
John 21:15-17 … Teach love by example
Jesus loved Peter even after Peter denied him three times and betrayed the trust Jesus had invested in him. Nonetheless, Jesus loved Peter with an intensity that enabled Peter, who was still not capable of fully giving his heart to Jesus, to overcome his fears and live a life of zealous commitment for his God. Jesus’ interaction with Peter is an example how one person’s love for another will cover over a vast multitude of sins, and allow the other person to rise above their own nature.
Demonstrate to your child in everyday interactions with other people how you genuinely and unselfishly love others. This goes further than loving through contact, as this requires your everyday interactions with others to live up to the example set by Jesus.
John 1:3-5 .. Teach love through conceptualization
Talking about love should never be reserved only for the Valentine’s Day festivities. On the contrary, it should be an inspiring topic of discussion around the dinner table. The more Christian parents introduce and reaffirm this topic within their child(ren)’s conscience, the more comfortable they will feel about it, and the more normal it will be for them to act on it, even if they are surrounded by a world that is losing the sense of love.
Romans 12: 19-21 … Teach love through practice
Loving others in a godly way will not come naturally to a child who is surrounded with examples to the contrary. As early as preschool, children will learn to love those who are their friends, but rebel against those who take away their toys, feeling justified because they were hurt.
Love must be a matter of daily practice. For example, if little Jane is taking away your child’s toy, it is not ok to hit, whine, or complain. You child must understand that s/he is still obligated to love little Jane, even if little Jane temporarily appears somewhat unlovable, and to do so in word and deed. Examples of such love could include your child’s willingness to share a favorite toy with little Jane or to forego a turn with a favorite toy in Jane’s favor.
Thusly, your child will learn that love is a daily, hourly, and even minute by minute decision, and not a funny feeling in her/his tummy.
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