Loving Your Family
Joey & Carla Link
February is the month to celebrate love. What do you think of when you think of the word “love”? To me (Carla), it is kind of like a warm fuzzy feeling that wraps around me and gives me a big hug.
We don’t usually like to think of loving or being loved as a command, but that is exactly what Jesus said in John 13:34-35,
“A new command I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Did you catch “you must love one another”? Carla and I are coming up to our 39th wedding anniversary. You can’t be married that long without knowing you must love each other whether you feel like it or not. I don’t think married love is what Jesus is referring to. He is talking about loving people in general.
Where does that kind of love start? It starts at home. One of the best things we learned in the parenting class “Growing Kids God’s Way” was “Couch time”. When Dad gets home from work, he and Mom sit on the couch for 10-15 minutes talking. The kids have to see or know you are having couch time, but can’t interrupt you. It shows them that you give priority to each other. Showing priority is a form of love. When our kids could tell things were tense between us, they would say, “You need to have couch time!”
What about kids? It is hard for a 3 year old to understand why he must love his brother who just hit him. An 8 year old won’t get why she must love her sister who just spilled chocolate milk on her favorite top. A 10 year old won’t get why he should love kids at school who bully him. Your teen won’t get why she should love girls who make fun of her clothes.
Where does it start? You need to require your kids to show love whether they want to or not. Isn’t that what a command is? While you certainly deal with your 3 year old’s sibling who hit him, you also ask your 3 year old how he can show love to him in return. Your 8 year old’s sister needs to be willing to replace the top she ruined, even if it was an accident, but your 8 year old can’t stay mad at her either. One way of showing love is to grant forgiveness when it is asked of you, which means you won’t hold grudges and you won’t allow your kids too.
A hard verse for any of us to follow is Matthew 5:44,
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
In the moment a sibling becomes an “enemy”, teaching them to love him/her is giving them the tools they need to love others. Your 10 year old and teenager can love those who hurt them easier if they have been doing it all their lives. We used to ask our kids to tell us one way they could show them love when they were hurt by others.
The biggest hurdle to a loving family is the tone we use with each other. Parents would be wise to not deal with what your kids say, but with how they say it. A helpful Mom’s Notes presentation is “It’s All About Attitude”. Good attitudes are infectious!