It’s Valentine’s Day and last year I wrote a post (link here) about why I’m okay with Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is as good a day as any to talk about love because every day is a good day to talk about love. But, what is love, really? It’s lots of things and it’s about describing how you feel about lots of things. It’s about falling in love with a person or your first-born child. It’s about loving something inanimate like your first home. It’s about forgiving people and accepting them for who they are, and that, to me, is the most important part.
The title of this post comes from my Dad, who, since I’ve become a parent, has repeated to me: ‘always with love’. By this, he refers to how I parent, discipline, guide, and teach my kids things. It’s so hard to be patient, to forgive the things your kids say to you or about you. It’s so hard to punish or tell a child you don’t approve of what they’re doing, nicely. But, that’s what you have to do, and, to do it properly, you have to do it with love.
‘Always with love’ means that you don’t speak until you’ve figured out the nicest, most constructive way to say something. As someone who’s extroverted and talks a lot, my mouth talks way faster than my brain thinks sometimes. And, that’s not good when you’re a parent who wants to have the best impact in the little time you have to say something, especially when we’re talking about teens. One of my dear friends has taught me one magical phrase that works really well. She recommends starting a sentence with ‘I wonder…’ This is such a great way to start a sentence because it’s not judgmental, accusatory, or demanding. I love it and I try to use it as much as I can. It’s also a kinder way to get a conversation started, and fits perfectly with the ‘always with love’ approach. It’s just a softer way to start a conversation.
I’ve been parenting for a while now and I’m still learning. But, the greatest ‘a-ha’ moment for me has come recently when I realized that the best thing I can do is to show someone that I love them. That sounds so obvious, but, like I said, when you’re parenting, you sometimes think being tough is the way to go and sometimes that concept comes at the expense of love because you think the two can’t go together. They can, it’s about how you approach things, your attitude, and the end goal, which is to have a close, loving relationship with someone.
So, I leave you with excerpts from one of my favorite Bible passages, from Corinthians, that my Dad chose for our wedding. I’m sure this is the basis for his phrase ‘always with love’ and I’m glad he’s always reminding me about it:
Happy Valentine’s Day!