How to Love Effectively

As with our spouse, it is essential to maintain a loving relationship with our children at all times, including when time is spent apart. One of the biggest keys to maintaining a relationship is to know what makes the other person feel loved. It may be time together, gifts, affection, words of appreciation or something else. A basic key to remember with our spouse and children is that men thrive on respect and women thrive on love (see Ephesians 5:33). 
 
We have a close friend who is one of the best parents we have ever met. She has three beautiful daughters who are currently between ages 15 and 23. They all love the Lord and are some of the most loving, considerate, thoughtful, honest, selfless, and sincere young ladies we have ever met. In addition to all that, they are extremely intelligent, motivated, talented and beautiful. One of the most outstanding characteristics the three daughters have is their deep loyalty and respect for their mother. This respect is not just there by happenstance. It has been cultivated consistently over many years by a very wise and loving mother. Let us share a few of her secrets to great parenting with you. 
 
People often feel valued through traditions that make them feel important. This mom has many of those traditions. Many years ago, the mom purchased a red plate and started having a monthly dinner called “The Red Plate Dinner.” Each month, a different member of the family received the special honor and appreciation at the meal that evening. During or after the meal, they go around the table and everyone tells things they love, appreciate, and respect about that member of the family! Her girls love and look forward to this night every month. It serves a twofold purpose: in addition to building them up if it is their night, it also teaches the other family members to verbally place value on and esteem others. The honor and value we place on someone consistently with our words and actions will become an equal measure to the commitment they have in their hearts toward us. 
 
When her girls were young this mom also started a tradition of having a tea party together every Friday when they would get home from school. This is just a simple way that their mom consistently shows them she values her time with them. It gives the girls opportunity to talk, which most women and girls like to do. 
 
There are numerous ways that parents, including those who travel and sometimes work long hours, can show honor to their children. A once-a-month fishing or camping outing or making time to play catch with a ball once or twice a week may be just what makes kids feel loved by dad or mom. Whatever you choose, be sure it makes your child feel valued, and make sure you do it consistently. Children need consistent and tangible displays of honor and love. Throughout the week, keep the focus on what you plan to do together, and then make sure you always follow through with it. 
 
If you or your spouse travel often, make every effort you can to travel together and even bring your children whenever possible. Make sure those you love know how much you love them. It is essential to a good relationship to make sure each person in our family knows we honor and value them. Ask them what makes them feel honored and valued. Study them to see what they do to show others love and you will probably have found what makes them feel loved. 
 
God’s best is for us to have strong families and maintain closeness with them. When we consistently do and say things to show our family members that they are in our heart, they will feel honored and valued and be committed to us in their heart. 
 
In love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy