Christmas is a Time to Love

Everybody knows
A turkey and some misletoe
Can help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight

Amidst the hustle, honking, smells, shopping; the UPS deliveries and Amazon. Among all of the sights and sounds of this busy season. During Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and bringing in the New Years festivities, Christmas is about so much more than what we make it. For many people especially with children the holidays can be difficult to manage just due to schedules, holiday programs and parties.

For others, there may be grief or pain. The holidays, for some people may remind us of loved ones lost; or of the struggle of being a single parent- perhaps this is the first year? Maybe there is a conflict in an important relationship? Imaginably, the holidays can possibly bring back tough memories of moments in our own childhoods that may not have been pleasant.

If these memories exist for us as as adults it could conceivably be difficult to persevere in making new memories for children while teaching them about the real meaning of Christmas. Even if your childhood Christmas memories were filled with gumdrops, candy canes and the love of family; teaching your children realness and truth can still present a challenge for any parent.

The hopes and fears of all the years, are met in thee tonight

What is the realness and truth of Christmas that we can teach our children? It is that Christmas is about love. Children need to be shown and taught genuine love and affection from the adults in their lives, not just at Christmas but also, all year long. The best way that we can teach this to our children is to model it for them. We can show love in our relationships with them and also in the relationships we have with other people in our lives. The relationships we have with each other (as husband/wife, mother/father, aunt/uncle, etc.). We model love in how we treat other people and how we treat them as children everyday, how we talk with people and about people. How we talk with them and to them; when they are in the room and when they are not in the room. It is all a model and example of love.

Presuming that children already know they are loved by their parents is a false assumption. Mommies and Daddies- say it! Declare it! But also show it! Not just by giving your children gifts although that is a way to show your love too. But show your love through your actions, through your time and affection as well as your words.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care

Teaching children how to love and respect other people- whether it is a newborn baby or a senior citizen or especially loving and respecting their families. Especially teaching respect to their parents and to their siblings. Sometimes, the results of these lessons will bring a parent great joy and celebration and at other times, it is painfully, an agonizing process of parenthood. Why? Because love from a child is honest and true and we see ourselves reflected in their little lives. We hear our own voices echo in what they say to each other and at times to other people. There is nothing to hide or cover-up. The emotions are out there. But the good news for parents is- no matter what your circumstances, showing your children love starts with your heart and then extends to your voice.

O tidings of comfort and joy

Teaching Children Love at Christmas and All Throughout the Year

 Trust

The first stage of development for your infant will be building trust with you as the parent (Erik Erikson Trust vs. Mistrust). Later, helping your child understand that maintaining their word/promises builds relationships and friendships and contributes to their integrity as a person. As a parent, find ways to share the truth with your child in age-appropriate approaches so that you model truth.

 Kindness

A friend loves at all times. When we demonstrate kindness in our relationships with each other and to our children this will help to build their character. Encourage children to use agreeable words, tender hands and to keep their bodies calm at appropriate times.

 Giving

It’s easier to give at holiday time and to teach the concept of giving. But the thought behind sacrificial giving as it relates to love is that giving is sacrificial and becomes innately a part of a person’s nature. Giving is of course about giving to another friend, family and to the poor. But it is also helping your family and others like with the dishes, picking up toys, folding laundry; it is bringing mom/dad soup or medicine when they are sick or when a child puts down an iPad/toy to make a special card. Giving is not just about things it is about time and it comes from the heart to meet the needs of others. Children learn this concept especially when they see giving modeled from their parents and how adults demonstrate sacrifice for each other and those around them. Children’s love for their parents will inspire them to do likewise.

 Respect

Modeling respect means- treating your child with feelings of deep admiration- it also means treating your husband/wife with an affection of appreciation elicited by their capabilities, qualities, or accomplishments. When your home exemplifies the definition of respect, your children will better understand what respect looks like and how to treat other people in the world. How will they know if they don’t see it? Instead of telling them to respect others, show them. If we are sincere about teaching children love and if a virtue of love is respect, than we must uncover, recognize and work on removing all of the ways that we demonstrate disrespect. As adults we must work to remove shaming, yelling, criticizing and lecturing and replace it with active, respectful, objective language that is positive and productive working toward healthy and healing solutions- especially in our family relationships because this will extend to the relationships outside the home.

 Discipline

Research shows that a combination of love and firm discipline based on natural consequences is the correct blend in a healthy parent/child relationship. Neither the lack-of discipline; by ignoring or absenteeism or the excess of discipline based on fear, shaming or any form or physical or emotional intimidation is considered healthy. Research shows that children develop loving relationships with others and strong character traits in many areas such as self-esteem, empathy and responsibility when they are in a stable parent/child environment where healthy discipline is consistent.

 After Thoughts

Whatever you bring in your history to the parenting relationship or whatever your realities about love are today, the truth is real love stems from an everlasting and unconditional place. It is goodness, mercy, hope and peace. The good news of Christmas is that love is shared again every December and lives in each of our hearts all year long. The way that we impart, show and teach love through our families and through the passion for our children will have a great impact on the future of the world because we are raising a future generation and investing characters that will lead our world.  What does love have to do with it? Everything.  May you find love, joy and peace this Christmas as you bless and model for others what real love looks like- especially for the to the smallest of these, your kids this Christmas and always.

And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth
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