My husband and I were talking with a friend of ours the other day about relationships and she made a comment that stuck with me. She couldn’t remember where she heard it but someone said that we’re not raising children to be good people, we’re raising people to be good spouses.
It’s not an all inclusive statement, of course. Because we do want our kids to be good people with morals and ethics and love for their fellow man. But let’s face it, just like kids pick up on our work ethic, how well we take care of bodies, and what we’re willing to compromise, they’re also picking up on how their daddies and mommies love each other.
Think about the baggage you brought into your marriage. How much of it was directly influenced by your own parents – whether positive or negative?
My husband and I aren’t parents yet but we talk about it. And we talk about what kind of environment we want them to grow up in. I want to do a lot of things right in motherhood and one of the them is giving our kids the best view of love possible. If I don’t pass on any other love truths, let them at least know these.
Love is special
We all do it. We say we love chocolate and we love our families like it’s the same thing. Of course, we know what we mean but it doesn’t negate the fact that we’ve all gotten in the habit of cheapening the word.
I want our children to know that love is special. I want them to know that saying ‘I love you’ means something important. I know their little hearts will love their favorite teddy bear and they’ll love spaghetti and that will be sweet and beautiful. But they’ll get older and their hearts will love the guy they pass in the hallway or the girl in youth group. I hope that when that happens we will have taught them that love isn’t the same as attraction because real love takes time to grow. I hope that they’ll save the ‘I love you’ for someone that doesn’t just make their heart flutter or keep them up at night. I hope they’ll save it for someone who has proven worthy of those three words.
I know I can’t keep their hearts from breaking but I can help them avoid as many landmines as possible. I hope we’ll have shown them that it’s special and meant to be guarded carefully as well as given generously.
Love is more than a feeling
I want our kids to know that love isn’t just something nice you feel. I want them to know that it’s also something you choose and that obedience is a way to express love. I know “because I said so,” will often have to be a good enough reason but I hope to instill the idea that family love means family cooperation.
Love means doing stuff for others when we don’t feel like it. It means not grumbling under your breathe. It means patience when frustrated. It means listening even when you think you already know the answer. It means lending a hand without being asked. I want their understanding of love to spill into everything they do and say so that when people interact with them they’ll see tender, upright hearts.
I want our kids to enter the world of romance with the knowledge that love is more than that fluttery feeling in their stomach and real love is the stuff that keeps you together through the struggle.
Love is sacrificial
Most importantly, I want my kids to know that love is what made Jesus condescend to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. This is love that’s bigger than anything daddy and mommy could feel for them or each other. This is love that is completely selfless and we’re supposed to have it for everyone else around us. Our families, our friends, our communities, our churches. Our spouses.
I want our children to be the kind of spouses that love their significant others with this kind of sacrificial love. I don’t want them to be petty and superficial. I don’t want them to think it’s okay to let tempers loose. I don’t want them to walk away from conflict. I want them to face challenges courageously. I want them to exemplify grace, mercy, politeness, and sweetness. I want them be serious about the important stuff and let the trivial matters go. I want them to build strong households anchored in faith and truth.
It’s easy to think that because we’re not parents we don’t have to think about this stuff. But I think that the more we do, the better off our future kids will be. I really do love a lot of things. Like chocolate. And I know our kids are going to feel deeply about all kinds of stuff. But I want to show the the best kind of love I possibly can.
It doesn’t start when I hold them for the first time.
It starts now.