Love. We hear this word uttered by pop stars to crowds and judges to potential X-factor winners. We hear it shouted to football players and whispered to teddies and fluffy ponies. But what is this love that we are so familiar with? What does it look like…in action?
In a meeting recently with Father Peter, from St. Bernard’s Abbey, my ears were treated to this line: Love someone in to a better place. The simplicity of this statement struck right to my core. Could my loving someone really transport them to a place in which they felt better about themselves and life? And what about society’s focus on helping the individual first – that I am the first priority in my world?
We live in a world that bombards us with slogans, adverts, movies and the like, telling us to “Be all we can be” to “Strive to be the best” and “Follow your dreams”…all of which have a place in our lives but what about others?
Isn’t it time for us to see ourselves in others? Should our actions and love towards others not tell us more about ourselves? We should love and serve others and thus see ourselves in their faces.
Parents and teachers need to love their children in to better places; not pressure or motivate or change them in to, a better place. But love them for who they are and where they are, at that moment in their lives – even if it is a place that is not very nice or where you would rather they not be. Love them in that moment. Love them out of that place and love them in to a place in which they feel better about themselves and about their lives.
Children need to be loved for who they are. Yes, we can have dreams and aspirations for our children but we must not fall in to the trap of loving the child who we want them to become. We need to make them feel that we love them for who they are now.
Parents need to start loving themselves and need to examine closely, their own feelings, wishes, dreams and desires and see if these areas in their lives, are possibly preventing them from loving their child to a better place. It always seems so obvious when looking at someone else’s child. We need to start looking closer to home. Let’s send our children to school feeling loved for who they are. Let’s send our children off in to the world, feeling loved and with a strong sense of being loved, accepted and trusted by the adults who look after them.
If a child feels loved, they will begin to trust others, and have enough love to love others. Unkindness, bullying and depression are on the rise. Let’s start filling our children with love so that they can weave love in to the lives of those with whom they come into contact.
Love is unconditional. It comes with a price tag – it requires sacrifice, making oneself vulnerable and importantly, it requires action. Loving our children should be a constant behaviour and emotion in our lives – it is not just a word. We need to live lives that reflect love – in our thoughts, our words and our deeds. We need to let our children know that they are loved, by the way that we treat them. Our love should send the right message – and we should be careful and mindful of which message it is actually sending versus what we think our words and actions are sending.
This is the enormous responsibility of parents and teachers. Let’s stop complaining about children’s behaviour (ours or others), let’s stop just recording and noticing their behaviour – let’s start working at helping them love themselves and others. It starts with us, loving them for who they are and where they are now.