“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
As my kids are preparing to celebrate Valentine’s Day at school this week, I am reminded of this Scripture (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8). We often hear it at weddings, but if you read it with your whole family —particularly your children— in mind, it takes on an even more profound meaning. While Valentine’s Day is typically thought of as a romantic holiday, it is also an opportunity to talk with our little ones about love.
The four Bible verses that precede the passage above make it very clear that without love, we have nothing. And the verses that follow it emphasize that love is greater than all things, including hope and faith. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Certainly powerful enough to warrant a conversation with our kids about what love is. Doing so, on or in preparation for Valentine’s Day, is a perfect way to add a spiritual element to the popular celebration and to bring the family closer together.
So, what is love? As parents, the words spoken and the wisdom conveyed in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, provide incredible guidance: patience, kindness, good will, humility, selflessness, tolerance, forgiveness, care, trust, hope, perseverance. Contained in those four short verses is a parenting handbook which very clearly details the sort of behavior we should be striving to model for our children. What better way could there be to demonstrate our love for them, for our partners, our friends and neighbors?
For most of us, some of these qualities are easier to practice than others. The patience piece is particularly challenging when dealing with young ones. I suspect it is no accident that patience is the very first word used to explain what love is. What a stunning reminder, no?
In that spirit, I started to think of ways our family could talk about and express love in honor of Valentine’s Day. I came up with a few ideas…
- Take some time to read 1 Corinthians 13 with your kids. Ask them what they think it means and explain it to them in language they will understand. If they’re old enough, watch this video with them:
- Ask them to think about different ways in which they can practice patience (like waiting for a younger sibling without protest), practice kindness and care (like spending time with an elderly neighbor) or practice forgiveness (like giving a friend a hug after an argument and letting them know everything is okay).
- Bake Valentine-themed cookies or cupcakes to donate to your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Talk about why it’s important to show love for those who may be lonely or don’t have much.
- Have a special Valentine’s Day dinner —could be any day this week— and enlist your children to help with planning the menu, decorating a bit, setting the table or preparing the meal. After saying grace and starting to eat, go around and give each person a chance to say why they love the other members of the family.
- Consider giving each of your children a special Valentine, or spending some one-on-one time with them, to let them know how much they are loved.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
As a bonus, here’s Father Mike Schmitz sharing what he learned about love from, of all places, a Steve Carell movie:
Korbi is a former full-time TV blogger, writing for sites such as E! Online and Yahoo!. She is now a full-time mom of twin boys. In her free time, she moonlights as a Marriage, Family & Individual Therapist.
Image: Courtesy Kate O’Hare