Celebrate Valentine’s Day every day
“A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it.” (Frank A. Clark)
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week it is a good time to reflect on why love is a requisite part of our lives and a basic human need. It begins at our birth and continues until death.
A mother’s nurturing, a father’s reassuring presence, support in physical and emotional development from either parent, all tend to contribute to emotional stability and a happy childhood. We, as parents, must recognize that the consequences of our failure to provide these building blocks for mature and stable growth, is to produce children who suffer physical and psychological disorders as adults.
As loving and caring parents, we must teach our children how to get along with their siblings and friends. We must teach them respect for what belongs to others, how to resolve conflict before it escalates to violence, how to pray and to be thankful for what is theirs, particularly if they have earned it themselves. We can’t delegate to teachers our responsibility to educate our children. Rather we must become partners with the teachers and the school system in the education process. The most critical challenge we will have in that respect is making sure that homework assignments are done and that we’ve confirmed that the lesson has been learned.
As our children develop physically and mentally, we should encourage them to participate in team sports or other mentally or physically engaging activities where they will begin to develop their character by interacting socially with others, learning to win, to lose, to have pride, and to suffer despair, to be a part of a team, or how to stand on their own two feet.
This is the time when we must also help them to understand that God loves them and is there for them, even when we can’t be. We should teach them to “rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, (and) persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) As part of their maturity process, if they know that there is always someone to whom they can turn for support and who loves them, they won’t have to turn to drugs or alcohol as a crutch to get them through the tough times.
Before the “love bug” begins to sting our children, we have a responsibility to be examples to them as to what love looks like. It begins by how we show respect for our marital partner, in the things we say to each other, and the things we do with and for each other. Our children learn from our example. We have a responsibility to them and to future generations to “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; (and) anticipate one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9)
How many of us have caught ourselves saying something that our parents told us when we were young. It was an astute observation or wise saying. It was something we couldn’t relate to at the time, but now we think to ourselves, “Oh no, I’ve become my mother (or father).” Yes, we have, and our children will become like us. That’s why it’s so important for us to be good examples to them.
We must do this not only when we are at home interacting with one another, but also when we’re dealing with the general public. How we react to people of a different sex, race, creed, political belief or social status will set the tone for how our children will do the same. If we each follow Christ’s teaching to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) we not only teach our children how to live and love, but we can bring about an enduring peace in the world.As our children, become adults, marry spouses and have children of their own, our job is not complete. We must continue to provide good example, but also gently guide them when they seem to be getting off track. While they have become “independent” and don’t think they need mom or dad’s advice, if we’ve set the tone when they were young, they’ll welcome (well, maybe begrudgingly) our interest in their well-being. Our comments are a sign of our continuing love for them and they will appreciate it in the long run.
Finally, we have a responsibility to allow our children to show us how much they love us, particularly in our old age. As we become frail, physically handicapped, mentally impaired or just need an assist with our activities of daily living, we must let them show us the love we taught them by allowing them to provide us all the help they can give. It’s their way of showing us that they learned well the lesson that love is needed and appreciated by all generations.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is a day to commemorate love and we should give remembrance to it every day, by our love.
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