Parenting 101: Teaching your children about the virtue of love

Your family can have fun making a collage out of poster paper, pictures from magazines and words or sayings that illustrate some aspect of love.
Your family can have fun making a collage out of poster paper, pictures from magazines and words or sayings that illustrate some aspect of love.
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Valentine’s Day is set aside to show people we are close to that we love them. The most common ways we do this are with gifts of cards, flowers or candy. Here’s another idea for a way to share love that doesn’t cost money or add empty calories. You can simply sit around with your family and share your ideas about what love is and how you can practice being more loving.

Begin by asking each person what they think love is. Assure everyone that you are not looking for a dictionary definition or a specific answer, but rather they should just speak from their own experience. This is communal learning, and each person’s understanding will contribute to that of the others.

One person might say, “Love is caring for someone.” Another could say that it is “a desire to share.” A third might share that “it is a powerful attraction that fills my heart.” You might add that when you love someone, you treat them with special care and kindness. Someone else might chime in with the comment that you show love when you smile and speak pleasantly.

After everyone’s contributions have been made, ask them why they think they should practice being loving. After your family members answer, you can add a few ideas of your own, such as, “Everyone likes to be loved” or, “When you are being loving, you help others to feel important” or, “When people know they are loved, they are nicer and kinder.” The reasons to practice love are many and varied, which will make it fun and interesting to hear the answers people come up with.

Now that you all have a better idea of what you think love is and why you should practice it, the next question to ask is, “How do we practice being loving?” Ideas that might come out could include:

• You practice being loving by allowing yourself to feel love for the people and things around you.

• Sharing is a way to practice being loving.

• Say kind and loving things.

• Wish for others what you wish for yourself. 

Just as the reasons to love are many, there are also many ways to practice it. There is no limit on the number of ideas. The more likely limit is going to be how much time you have available for the discussion. 

In addition to talking about love, your family can have fun making a collage out of poster paper, pictures from magazines and words or sayings that illustrate some aspect of love. Allow about 10 minutes for everyone to choose and cut out their contributions, then glue everyone’s images onto the poster paper. Hang your family’s co-created “love project” on the refrigerator door as a way to visually reinforce the ideas people in your family have about love. The poster will serve as a way to inspire them to continue to practice being loving.

Before concluding your family gathering, ask each person to honor the spirit of Valentine’s Day by naming one way he or she is going to practice being more loving. One child might wish to be more loving toward their pets; another might want to be more cooperative and helpful at home. Someone else might say he wants to practice being more loving by taking care of the things he loves. Perhaps you will take aim to be more loving by performing your daily tasks with greater patience and care or by sending regular texts that tell your family members you are thinking of them with love.

Through this practice of understanding and practicing love, your family will grow, and all of you will flourish as a result. What better way for you and your family to honor the spirit of St. Valentine than by agreeing you will become more loving and then doing it?

Shanti can be reached at (575) 779-4627 or shanti@barbaraujones.com.

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