My dad always bought little valentines gifts for my sister and me. I guess he thought the holiday of love was a time to express his love to ALL the girls in his life, not just our mom. So he’d buy us candy, or a little stuffed bear or something. Sometimes he’d write a goofy little poem or card too. I remember this one as one of my favorites:
Roses are red,
Violets are purple
Pancakes taste better
With hot maple syrple.
As I got older, gifts of daddy-love weren’t cherished as much as goofy gifts from teenage boys, but my dad didn’t stop. And by loving me on Valentines day, whether I noticed or not, he added the concept of real, solid, Father-love to the holiday of silly, sentimental, fluff-love.
In our house of six kids (ages 5-13), Valentines day is about candy, and making crafts that start out fun and become tedious, and the little one getting lots of practice writing his name. But it’s also about the important stuff, the real love between their parents, and from us to them, and from God to all of us. Here are some ways we add color to the idea of “love” for our kids.
It starts with the family
We take a normal family dinner and make it special. First of all, it’s a dinner made by dad for the girls. (Now that the boys are older, they are allowed to help daddy do this “kind thing” for the girls.)
During the time normally used for dinner-making, I play dress-up with the girls. Not long ago, we used tiaras and Cinderella dresses from the dress-up box. Now, we use our own dresses, and mama’s real jewelry. We put on nail polish, and “make ourselves beautiful” for our fancy dinner. This does not come naturally to me. I am perfectly comfortable eating my dinner in yoga pants, again. But, for me, this is a good opportunity to remind myself that it is good to be feminine, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look pretty and have someone tell you that you are lovely and loved. My daughters look in the mirror and delight in their own reflections (usually), and they teach me how to rejoice in the gifts God has given in making us female.
The boys get dressed up, too, which is great for pictures. When they grumble, daddy tells them, “Sometimes we do things we don’t feel like doing, just to please the girls!”
When the children became old enough, we began to use this time to chat a little bit about what love is in age-appropriate ways. (See the end of the post for more questions and tips)
Would you marry a prince that was rich but unkind?
What gifts has God given daddy that make him a good daddy?
If God doesn’t send you a spouse, what might you do differently when you’re grown up?
Would you marry someone who was kind and smart but always smelled like bacon?
(Of course they wonder- what’s wrong with smelling like bacon?)
I also use this time to remind myself that they ARE growing up. They need to learn about love because (Lord-willing) they will love. They were made by God, not for ME, but for love. We have them in this home to love for now, to raise and to care-for, to steep them in the Word of God, to surround them with His love. But it will not always be this way. They will grow up, they will move out, and we pray, they will bear fruit. As they stay connected to Jesus, He will put people in their lives for them to love. He will give them talents and vocations, and send them difficult people, and kind people, and hurting people, and they will be called upon to love. He may even send them spouses, and children, and in their homes, they will be called upon to love.
May they love with a love that flows from the love of God for us.
“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
God, thank you for these dear children!
As we celebrate Valentines day with them, we ask Your blessing on them! If it is Your will for them to marry someday, we pray that you would provide for each of them a spouse who blesses them, who will join with them to create a home that springs out of Your love and is filled with it. Teach them to love what is lovely, to praise what is truly beautiful,and to always look to You for wisdom in matters of the heart.
Thank you for these Valentines days with little ones, when relationships are simple, when they are glad to celebrate with just their family. Let the girls always remember that love is like what they received from their daddy when then were little. Let our imperfect example point the boys and the girls toward You, the giver of Life and Love, as we see in Jesus. Amen.
A few tips:
Keep it simple! We usually have spaghetti and garlic bread, and brownies from a box. But we use a table cloth, and fancy dishes, and daddy picks out some soft classical music.
Resign yourself to the extra laundry that will come: it’s for the sake of the memory you are making!
Don’t set the standard too high! A fancy table and soft candlelight will create a lovely atmosphere in the dining room, but it will not magically transform the children . Expect burping and spilling and whining at this meal, just like every other one! But why not try to stimulate some fun conversation in between the burps?
Good questions for Valentines Day
- Does mom love dad? How do you know?
- Does dad love mom? How do you know?
- Look at the brother or sister sitting to your left. Name something about that person that you think their future spouse will like.
- If Jesus would tell you who you are going to marry some day, would you want to know? What would you ask him about that person?
- If God would answer one request about your family in the future- what would you ask him?
- Do you hope your future spouse has lots of money? Why or why not? Would you marry someone that was rich but unkind?
- Do you want your future spouse to be kind? How will you know if he/she is?
- Would you marry someone that was kind but refused to do any work? Would you marry someone that was kind but simply could not do work?
- If God doesn’t send you a spouse, what else might you do when you grow up?
- Would you marry someone who was kind and smart but always smelled like bacon? Or green beans?
- Would you marry someone who wants to have 20 children? Would you marry someone who hates children?
- What would you do if God sends you a spouse that works in another country?
- What do mom and dad do for fun? What do you think you will do for fun with your spouse?
- When you are old enough to have a house, what kind of house do you want?
- Do any of the kids in your class have girlfriends or boyfriends? What do you think about this?
- Has anyone ever told you that you are pretty or handsome? Do you like when people say this?
- Do you think your family will be like ours if you have children? How might it be different?
- Name a gift that mom has that makes her a good mom.
- Name a gift that day has that makes him a good father.
- Name a gift that dad has that makes him a good husband.
- Name a gift that mom has that makes her a good wife.
- What will you do when you meet someone and you are not sure if they are the one for you?
- If you could ask God to tell you who you are going to marry, (if you are going to marry,) would you want to know? What else might you want to know?
- When you get big enough to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, do you think you would invite him/her to our family Valentines dinner? What do you think they would think of this family?
Did you make a Valentine’s Day memory with your family?
I’d love to hear your story!
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