Over the years our family has celebrated Valentine’s Day in various ways. One year I hosted an “I love you breakfast” and we picnicked by the fireplace with yummy cinnamon rolls. Each child was given a heart shaped love note, with specific attributes I adored in each of them. When they were really little we used to get together with my friend Tammie and her crew we would hide hearts with loving words on them and they dashed off like an Easter Egg Hunt in search of the little messages. We’ve given little gifts. Papa Murphy’s heart shaped pizza made our menu once. Heart shaped chocolate chip cookie bars have been a favorite.
Valentine’s Day 2017 was an impromptu affair. I searched for craft kits for the kids to do in pairs while the toddler napped. They got some chocolate. Homemade washi tape love notes from God met them at their breakfast spot. I remember loving when my mom gave me a sweet stuffed animal or little figurine with hearts on them when I was kid. I always want to do something special on this day.
Like all parents, I want the message of “I love you no matter what” to daily reach my kid’s hearts.
Are you loving your kids intentionally, each day of the year?
Ask my kids how often they hear: “There is nothing you can do that will make me love you more. There is nothing you can do that will make me love you less.” When my kids do well in an activity, I often communicate, “I love seeing you succeed. Do you know though, that doing well doesn’t make me love you more than I already do?” The times when my kids face defeat, they hear the words, “I’m so sorry you are disappointed. I hope you know that even though you are feeling down about this, I don’t love you any less.” We always want our kids to know that it isn’t what they DO that makes us love them. We love them always, no matter what.
Kids feel deeply. Sometimes the way they process the world can make us as parents feel defensive or vulnerable. David and I have purposed to always encourage our children to express how they feel, even if it makes us feel rotten. Calmly providing a “safe place” where they can communicate and know that we always try to understand, is our goal. We close our mouths and hear their hearts. We ask questions like, “Did I do something to make you feel this way?” Even if it hurts to hear the answer.
So many times when kids fight or make less than positive choices, they simply need to know we are not giving up on them. As we walk through different valleys with each child, we are constantly (and literally) saying, “We are on your side. We won’t ever give up on you.” This might feel awkward at first. But they need to hear it!
In the tender years when children are in our homes (and I suspect far after as well), they need to know we believe in them. Say it! We often use the phrases, “I know you can do this! You are capable.” Or, “I’m excited to see you growing in this area. I believe in you!”
Gently looking into our children’s eyes with a soft smile, and a loving touch on the shoulder or hand has softened even the hardest hearts in our home. This isn’t always easy. When our children are hurt, angry, disappointed, sometimes they pull away. As parents, at times we want to pull away too. It is better to soften your face, ask if you can give a little hug, and show a sincere smile of warmth and tenderness.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with kindness.”
Over time, we hope to share specific stories of loving our kids. This Valentine’s Day we wanted to share practical phrases and tools to implement in your interactions with your kids today. I hope you who are reading will use this special day to communicate your fierce love to your children. May your homes be chocolate and flower filled! My heart is that each of you will be intentional in living out and expressing your love for your kids; in the mundane, in the hard, and in the victories. Jesus loves them. He calls them unto Himself. When we show tender, compassion, we are modeling the love He has for them. Let’s help each other keep our kid’s hearts. And let’s present our children before the Lord as one’s who have felt from early on that “God is love.” Happy Valentine’s Day!