I love my kids. I tell them I love them. I want them to grow up knowing their mom loves them - a lot! Here is a frequent conversation with my 8-year-old, Celina:
Me: Guess what?
Celina: You love me. (with a little eye roll)
Me: Yep, I love you!
Celina: Why do you always say that? I already know.
Me: I never want you to forget that I love you.
There are a number of things to look at when it comes to love. Love is the umbrella of so many other thoughts to consider when looking at any relationship, and especially with our kids. The Bible spells it out in I Corinthians 13 where it says:
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
Once again, I love my kids. I tell them I love them. I want them to grow up knowing I love them. I also know that telling our kids that we love them is not enough - action is required. Yet, it is so easy to justify my actions, attitudes, and words that are not loving. Here are some typical excuses:
I'm tired. I clean the house and pick up their messes. I put dinner on the table. I work. I stay up late to wash dishes, clean up, or prep for the next day. I need "me time." I just want some peace and quiet.
And then sometimes the excuses move into blame: They are selfish. They just make messes. They are loud. They are quirky and obnoxious. They are always going through some phase.
Can you relate to any of these?
Honestly, I don't like to admit that I think, speak, and act selfish or rude to my children, but I do. I allow life's pressures to interfere with my desire to truly love my kids. I want the benefits of a loving relationship, but am not always willing to do the difficult work of loving them. I end up defining and measuring my love for my kids by how they are behaving, their attitude towards me, or how well the last family vacation went.
The performance of our kids will never be perfect. They will disappoint and fail us. They are far from perfect, and so are we!
All of this measuring is based on the performance of the kids rather than on my choice to unconditionally love them.
What would it look like to love our kids regardless of their actions, attitudes, or words? What if we greeted them with love, kindness, and believing the best each time they walk through the front door or out of their bedroom? What if we remembered the beautiful, full feelings of love we had the first day we met those kids? Would that change our perspective? Would that change our ability to genuinely and unconditionally love them?
I had an experience of frustration when one of my kids was little. There was some personality conflict and I struggled to feel genuine love and compassion for this child, especially when said child was crying. The very moments that needed my tenderness and love I would feel tight, rigid, and so unloving. I didn't want to feel this way. I did all I knew to do at the time. I acknowledged this feeling and then I forced myself to sit still and embrace my kid in one of these moments. Even if my child squirmed, I wouldn't let go, until I felt nothing but love and compassion. Over time, the love in me grew.
That may sound terrible, but if we are not "feeling" love towards our kids, then we must take loving actions anyway. Imagine if I had just let that go and done nothing about those feelings. Now, ten years later, do you think I would be feeling more love or less? Things in life naturally deteriorate unless they are nurtured, including love.
** Using I Corinthians 13 as the guide, how would you rate your love toward your kid(s)?
** Again, using I Corinthians 13 as the guide, what are one or two changes you could make this week to improve your love for your kid(s)?
Love is the foundation of extraordinary life-change for you . . . and your kids!
(I’m Traci, the "Be Extraordinary!" blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)