This year, as Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday, we have the entire weekend to share the love, and express to friends and family just how much they mean to us. Love is one of our most powerful emotions, which can shift actions as well as attitudes, forever.
Recognizing each small, thoughtful gesture or quiet innuendo will nurture lasting relationships, build trust and assurances and open communication for an amazing family bond. Make the commitment to celebrate the ones you love for more than one day or the weekend. Spread a little love, every day.
CHERISH YOUR FAMILY
Take time to write a love letter to each family member. Make it special by including the hopes and dreams you had while planning for their arrival, and the many joys you have experienced while watching them develop specific new skills or achieve challenging accomplishments. Elaborate on their strengths, attributes and virtues that others admire. Make them uniquely special and it will lead to their success.
Typically, those special affections are offered in birthday or special occasion greeting cards. Sending a love letter today, and again throughout the year in your own words, on a day other than a special occasion will be more meaningful, and will significantly deepen your relationship.
START THE DAY WITH PASSION
Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to pour heart-shaped pancakes or cut French toast or lunch sandwiches into heart shapes. Use a cookie cutter or design freehand. Save Valentine heart napkins for lunchboxes or place at any meal throughout the year.
Bring some magic to a weeknight dinner table with special settings using fancy glassware, cloth napkins and candles. Simple extra touches help others feel special, while building traditions of love. You may begin to hear your children say to friends, “Well in our house, we ...” You know you’ve been successful when your loving efforts are being remembered and recounted.
BE GENEROUS WITH HUGS, KISSES
Each time any family member displays an act of kindness, deliver a chocolate kiss, a hug from you, or a heart-shaped note tucked under their pillow.
Consistently recognizing each other’s kindnesses will nurture family unity and enhance sibling bonds. Younger children will love the attention, while older ‘tweens and teens may roll their eyes or baulk at your affections.
Whether you get a shirk or a smile, keep it up, and never let their thoughtful actions go unnoticed.
CHOCOLATES, WITH LOVE
Attach little notes to the back of wrapped chocolate hearts or kisses.
Offer an extra bedtime story, help with a chore or a pass from an undesirable obligation. These simple offers encourage decision-making skills, allowing children to choose when they will use their coupons, teaching patience and perhaps saving for a rainy day.
Page 2 of 2 - DEVOTE TIME TO YOUR VIP
Dedicate at least five quiet minutes each day to every family member, no matter how busy your schedule.
Your individualized attention communicates, “You matter to me. Other things, such as chores, can wait. I’ll call them back, because I’m spending time with a very important person.”
Our time is one of our most valuable and valued gifts. Spending five or ten minutes asking how the day went, reading a story together other than at bedtime, playing a game or watching out the window together communicates love, without words.
TEACH WITH LOVE
As one of the most important role models for your children, be the one they can come to, no matter what problems arise.
Ensure their confidence by listening, rather than yelling. Let them know you share their concern and offer empathy by responding with “It sounds as if you are (afraid, angry, frustrated, disappointed).”
Rather than yell when you are frustrated, take a moment to smell the roses (breathe in very deeply) and blow out the candles (exhale slowly) to become calm and gather your thoughts. Modeling self-regulation will teach family members to do the same.
Once a problem is identified, rather than fixing it, offer phrases such as “How can I help?” This builds problem-solving skills for all ages.
Cherish the moments that become lasting memories.
Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting coach who lives in Stark County, Ohio. She is author of “Parenting with a Purpose.” Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find parenting resources at her website, www.yourperfectchild.com.