Love is not easy, in fact, it can be quite hard. Unfortunately, our children are raised on fairy tales and rom-coms that depict unrealistic expectations of what love is. This is what children need to know about love, and most importantly, what you can teach them about it.
What Children Need to Know About Love
There are many lessons that we need to teach our children about love that are contrary to what they see in the media. These lessons are important to help them learn how to love themselves and others, and also what to accept and not accept from others.
Abuse is Not Love
The old trope that if someone is teasing or bullying you it’s because they have a crush on you is dated and simply not true. Teaching our children that this means love teaches them to accept abuse (mental, physical, or emotional) from their partner.
On the flip side of that, this also teaches our children that teasing (aka abusing) someone is how to show love. This is toxic love and should not be given or tolerated by anyone.
There is a Give and Take Balance to Love
It is important to give our children lots of love in positive, healthy ways. This will teach them what healthy love should look like. It is equally as important, however, to teach our kids that they should give that love back in return.
This lesson is important for them to understand that any relationship – romantic, familial, or friendship – requires input from both people involved. You can’t just take, take, take without ever giving any back in return.
Read: No, Our Family Doesn’t ‘Match’ But Thanks to Adoption, It’s Filled With Love
If You Can Love Other, You Can Love Yourself
Yes, you need to make yourself vulnerable and give a lot of yourself to a relationship, but you don’t need to lose yourself in order to make one work. It is important that our children know that their partner’s needs aren’t more important than their own.
We need to teach our kids that if they don’t love themselves first, they can’t possibly love someone else properly.
Respect and Love Go Hand-in-Hand
Someone may love you, but if they don’t respect you then you can’t possibly maintain a healthy relationship with them. Respect in a relationship means:
- Understanding and appreciating your partner’s boundaries
- Speaking to them as an equal, not a subordinate
- Being open to listening and learning about your partner’s opinions and point of view
- Understand that you both have separate lives and those don’t have to completely stop just because you are in a relationship
Most importantly, always teach your children that they deserve respect just as much as you teach them to give it.
Self Love is the Best Love
Just as I already said: If you can’t love yourself, how are you ever going to love someone else?
Loving yourself means you respect yourself, you are confident in yourself, and you aren’t searching for someone to “complete” you. You are a whole person all on your own, a healthy, loving relationship will just be a bonus.
Sometimes You Will Outlive Love, and Thats Ok
Just because two people love each other, doesn’t mean it will last forever. Sometimes love fades, sometimes life circumstances make it impossible to be together, or even sometimes you love each other but you simply aren’t compatible in some key ways.
Whatever the reason, what our children need to know about love is that just because it doesn’t last, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it or that there is something wrong with them. It will be hard for a while, but eventually, they will go on and find happiness elsewhere.
Love isn’t Easy, so Put in the Effort
Relationships that do stand the test of time don’t do so without plenty of effort from both sides. Effort means:
- Speaking to each other with kindness
When both sides are equally committed to the relationship and making it work, it can last forever.
Sometimes Love is a Oneway Street
Unrequited love is hard, but it does not mean that you are not enough too much, or anything in between. It will take time, but eventually, you will move on and meet someone who loves you just as much as you love them.
Love Should Make You A Better Person
Our children should know that in a healthy relationship each person makes the other better. They challenge each other to step up and be better in all aspects of their lives. That being said, they do so in a way that is positive and supportive, not in ultimatums or pressure.
Love is Not Just Lollypops and Rainbows
Our children need to know that if someone truly loves them, they will love their scars and continue to love and support them even when they go through tough times. It’s easy to love someone when everything is going well, but the true test is at the end of a bad day, after receiving difficult news, or when they’re just tired and grumpy.
Every day won’t be the best day, but you continue to love each other through those moments.
The Bottom Line
The more you teach your children what real love looks like, the better prepared they will be for the realities of it as they get older. Teach them now so that they will have successful, healthy relationships later.