Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teaching God's Love in the Playroom

I will be honest and say that I used to be one of those anti-Valentine’s Day people. My only reasoning for this was that I preferred to be surprised with something special on a random Tuesday, rather than on a day where celebration for love was expected. I am happy to say that my views have since changed for two reasons.

One reason is that life has changed completely since having children. My husband and I used to have all the time in the world to go out to dinner, go shopping for gifts, make each others favorite meals and show spontaneous expressions of our love for one another. While these things can still be done, it takes more effort and time now that we have a family. Now, Valentine’s Day forces us to make special time for each other, which is critical if we want to put our marriage first.

The second reason why I now love Valentine’s Day is because it is a perfect opportunity to teach my children an important life lesson: that real love is God’s love.  

When my son thinks about love, I want him to automatically think about Jesus. Our society teaches love in a completely different way than God teaches love, so it is my job as a mom to ingrain in my children (in a fun way) the real definition of love. While every day is a great day to model and teach our children about God and love, the weeks before Valentine’s Day make it easy and fun to teach them this important concept. 

Children learn best through play and every day activities. So I love taking advantage of holidays and the decorations that can be found in stores across America, to emphasize my teaching points. 

Here are my top 3 activities to do with your young children this Valentine’s day to teach them about God’s love. 

1.       In 1 Corinthians Paul teaches that love endures forever. The concept of loving someone, even when we don’t feel the love, is a hard concept for even adults to grasp. We are expected to love, regardless of our feelings, because God loves us all the time. His love never fails. I came up with a fun, hands on way to teach this concept to my toddler. I found objects around the play room which were light weight and placed them on his table. I then brought out a very heavy rock which I had painted a heart and cross on. Surprisingly, the rock was entertaining just by itself. I then placed the rock next to the light weight items on the table and pulled out my hair dryer (another thing which my son thought was awesome). I explained to him that the rock represented God’s love and the other objects represented false love. Over and over again I would turn on the hair dryer and he would watch all of the objects (except for the rock) fly off the table! After doing this numerous times and repeating my point over and over again, my two year old understands that God’s love is the strongest and it will never change. 

2.       Teach your kids the meaning of Christian symbols and words through art by making God centered Valentines. Tell your children that you are going to make paintings or cards for people you love that represent God’s love. This can be anything you want it to be and can be tailored to your child’s age and desire for art. For my two year old, drawings consist of lines, dots, and scribbles. I turned his lines in to crosses and let him tell me what his pictures represented. I also made a picture and described the meaning behind my words and symbols. Older children can really get creative with this and can make their Valentines unique. 

3.       God’s love is not proud or self-seeking. One way to teach this concept to young kids is to spend your Valentine’s Day doing acts of kindness for others. Once again, this can be anything you want it to be and can be tailored to your kids ages. Some ideas are baking cookies for a neighbor, washing dad’s car, making breakfast for mom, volunteering at a homeless shelter, handing out bible verses at the mall, to bringing a meal to a family who may be in need of some extra love. Find a day where you can spend time that you would normally be playing, doing one of these acts of kindness. Make it fun and exciting, and hopefully, something your children will want to do again and again.

Every day we spend with our children is a precious day to teach them about the one who loves them the most: God. People will fail them, relationships will fail them, life will fail them, but God's love will never fail them. I want my son to not only know how much his dad and I love him, but also how much God loves him. I hope these activities bring inspiration to your playroom this Valentine's Day!

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

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