“When they placed you in my arms, you snuggled right into my heart.”
Our children are born into unconditional love. How many of you set your first glance upon your baby and knew in that moment that you would do anything for that child? This is the first gift that parenting offers, the experience of pure unconditional love.
In the instant that your child was placed into your arms, life offered up new meaning. Love is energy. It is from this unconditional love that you will find the energy and strength to endure the thousands of challenges this child will put you through over your lifetime.
Unconditional love is limitless and unending. It satiates because it is essential for the nourishment of our souls. Marianne Williamson wrote, “Love is to people what water is to plants.”
It is important for you to build a sense of trust in your child that your love is limitless. So often sibling rivalries begin over a parent’s attention or love. One child may not feel that they are getting their share of you. This often is the direct result of you giving your children the wrong message; that love is given as a reward and that your love is something that can be earned as a prize for good grades or good behavior.
Valentines Day offers the perfect time to talk about love with your child. Because children’s lives are so concrete, it may be hard for them to understand something so vast and invisible as love. One way to explain to your children that you have enough love for all of them is to give them something concrete to visualize the invisible. Below are two activities that can be adapted for a variety of ages.
A Love Lesson
What you will need:
Several candles of different colors or battery operated candles
This activity will offer you a way to bring the invisible essence of love into something visible. It is recommended for older children capable of handling a lit candle. You can duplicate this activity for younger children by buying battery operated candles. Instead of lighting the candles with a flame, you can just twist the light on.
Make sure you have a candle for each child and yourself. Let each child pick out the color they like. Explain to them that the different colors represent being different people. Now light your candle and tell them that the flame represents your love. Turn out the lights in the room so that it is dark except for the light of your candle. Only do this last step if it won’t scare your children. Younger children may appreciate the lights on and the message will still be able to be seen.
As you light each child’s candle, ask the children to describe to you what they see. If you are using the battery candles touch your candle to each child’s candle as you twist it on. Explain as you light each candle, your flame doesn’t get smaller as you share it with them. Instead, love actually grows as we share it. Have them count how many flames there are now from just the one flame. Explain how each one of them has some of your light (love) and you still have your candle lit as well. This is a great visual way for children to see that something can be shared but not diminished or used up.
Using the same candles (unlit), here is another fun demonstration you can do to carry the idea further. Go into a dark room. Tell your child that once again the flame represents love. Ask them how they feel being in the dark room. Are they scared? Do they feel alone? Now light your candle and show them that once there is light, (love) in the room it feels quite different. Go around and light each one of the children’s candles. As you do this, the room will get brighter and brighter. Explain to them that as you share love, the good feeling grows from one person to the next. Ask them how they feel with the room being lit by their candles (love). Do they feel safe? Do they feel connected with each other? Let them give words to what they feel and experience. They might surprise you in their ability to capture the message you are trying to convey.
Family Love Necklaces
What you will need:
Several types of colored beads
When beginning this project explain to your children that love is the invisible thread that connects all of us, as humans, on this planet. Each one of us is unique, but we all share the need to give and receive love to feel safe, feel happy and live a full life.
Begin by showing your child that the colored string represents the love that each of us has in our hearts. Next, show her the many types of colored beads. Explain that everyone is different and that each bead can represent a person who she loves. You can also begin a discussion about how everyone shows their love in different ways. Ask her how she shows her love to the people she has chosen to place onto her necklace. Talk about how those same people show their love to her. You may have to initiate the conversation by giving her some examples. Maybe Grandma brings her gifts and that is the way she knows how to express her love. Maybe the dog licks her face with his wet tongue. Maybe Daddy reads her bedtime stories.
You can then ask her to pick out a bead that she likes the best. This bead can represent her. Now ask her to think of all the people she loves and ask her to choose a bead to represent each of them. If you have more than one child it will be necessary for you to remind each of them that they have their own thoughts and feelings and that it is fine for them to choose different beads to represent the same person. (Sarah can choose a blue bead to represent you and Matthew an orange one).
Ask her to string the beads together to make a necklace of all the people she loves. You can do the same. You can then wear the necklace or hang it up as a decoration.