I have to admit that I don't always find it always easy to love my children. It's especially tough when I'm tired from lack of sleep and the children are not behaving the way I would like them to be. These are the times when I know I need God's love the most. Because God is Love. He first loved us before we even come to know Him.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
- John 3:16
When I feel I'm running low on love for my children, I pray for God's Love to fill me, for His Love to overflow within me, that I may use His Love to love my children; to love them UNCONDITIONALLY.
I believe that as parents, we should love our children unconditionally. Not only when they put on their best behaviour, not only when they do the things we expect of them, not only when they follow our instructions to the 'T'. We ought to love them even when they are misbehaving, even when they are throwing tantrums, even when we are tired and frustrated, even when it is absolutely difficult to love them. That's when we need to love them the most.
I do my best to reinforce to my children that my love for them is unconditional. That just like how God loves us unconditionally, God also helps me to love them unconditionally. I tell them my love for them never changes, no matter how well they behave, or how naughty they may be.
So I tell my children this:
Me: Do you know how much mummy loves you? So little?
(and I use my thumb and forefinger to show a sign that means "small")
Me: So much?
(and I widen the space between my thumb and finger)
Me: So much?
(I widen the space between my thumb and forefinger some more)
Me: I love you SOOOOO MUCHHH!!
(and I stretch out both arms wide open, and then embrace my child giving him a great big hug and kiss.)
Sometimes instead of telling them how much I love them, I ask them how much they love me, and they do the same to me.
I find this small exchange especially useful in diffusing tension after an episode of discipline, or to provide comfort to my children when they are upset about something, because it always ends up with a huge embrace which they love. Sometimes I drag it a little longer by playfully saying that I only love them "so little", with my thumb and forefinger only show a tiny sign and insisting that it's a lot of love already. They would try to pry my fingers further apart and we would end up in a playful tussle with the kids giggling and cheering up.
I also believe that doing this not just helps to reaffirm to my children that my love for them is unconditional, it also reminds me that when times are hard, I need to shower them with more love. When the children feel love, they too will express more love for me, and it forms a positive cycle. =)
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
- 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
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