Lessons on Love
Our daughter (age 8) has just developed a crush on a boy at school. It’s kind of cute right now, but my husband and I want her to understand what love is really about rather than fixating on infatuations as she grows up. Any ideas on how to communicate the truth about love to a child?
You and your husband are wise to be thinking about helping your daughter understand what true love is. Many children grow up with misconceptions about love that come largely from TV or movies or many of the books for teens that are flooding the market (and that often find their way into the hands of pre-teens). As children become adolescents they can fall prey to the dangerous notion that love is about sex (or at that least sexual activity plays an integral role in teenage romance).
Love is much more complicated than our kids are led by the media to believe, and relationships require a lot more work. The good news is that you as parents are in the best position to give your daughter a great understanding about what love really is.
There’s a passage in the New Testament that gives a wonderful description of love. It is, among other things, patient and kind, it does not envy or boast, it isn’t arrogant or rude, and it doesn’t insist on getting its own way. Love isn’t irritable or resentful, but it loves the truth and is full of perseverance and hope. Teaching your daughter to look for a relationship where those qualities can be nurtured will give her a solid footing as she considers potential suitors in the years to come.
One of the best ways to teach the truths about love listed above is to model them. The question you and your husband have to ask is: How well do we show love to each other? If you notice areas where you could be a better “lover,” now is the best time to do some marriage maintenance.
Aside from learning by their parents’ example, girls learn a lot about love from how their fathers treat them. One of the best things a father can do is to show tenderness and care for her. There are many ways your husband can accomplish this, like engaging her in conversation and really listening to her, taking her on special father/daughter dates, writing her affectionate notes that value her femininity and communicate her worth—the possibilities are almost limitless.
Teaching your daughter what love is really like will go a long way toward ensuring her future happiness and success in relationships.