What would the month of February be without love? The two are forever interconnected thanks to Valentine’s Day. In our home, we do not make a big deal out of the day but rather use it to springboard lessons on compassion and empathy for others throughout the month. This year, our lessons have been more on what love is and what it is not.

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But what is love?

This question is one that has been asked many times over the history of man but we are not trying to go that deep into what love is. I want

my kids to know what makes up the fundamentals of love. When asked what is love, oftentimes people will say:

love is patient,

love is kind,

love holds no wrongdoings

…. sound familiar?

Yes, this is a good way to describe love but to explain it to kids (especially those caught up in hormonal changes) so that they understand and recognize it, we have to Really simplify it. Love, at its basic explanation, I feel is three things.

Love thinks of others before themselves

When someone loves another or loves to do something, they will put that someone or thing before themselves. Let’s say that someone loves to play soccer. They will practice extra, they will watch their nutrition closer, and they will watch more soccer videos. They will choose to skip having a lazy Saturday for soccer. They will skip eating junk food with friends because they know it can affect their ability to play soccer well. They will choose to watch videos to try to improve their skills instead of fun movies or tv shows. Likewise, if someone loves another person, they will go out of their way for that person. They will change their behaviors based on what the other likes or does not like and will do their best to learn things that they other likes.

Love puts in the extra effort

When someone loves another, they will put in extra effort to make sure that the person knows it. They will do big gestures such as buying large gifts, surprising the person, and sometimes even taking them on a trip somewhere the special person has said they wanted to go. They will also do small things for the person they love. They will cook a meal for them, they will take the trash out because they saw it needed to be done, and they will help with little things too like putting away laundry. They put in extra effort for the one they love.

Love wants to spend time with you

Finally, love will want to spend time with you. This time can be doing something or it can be doing nothing. Someone who loves you will want to sit and color with you. They will want to do that difficult puzzle with you. They will spend time with you just chilling on the couch watching that new show if that is what you want or even learn some about a relaxing hobby you have.

All of these are great examples of what love is but it is important to know that these are not restricted to the type of love that someone marries. Love is also shown by friends. Shown by us as we are being good friends. These are things I strive to teach my kids. Another thing I try to teach them is what love is not.

It does not hurt you or those you care about

I feel it is important that our kids learn early on that love will not purposefully hurt you or those you love. There will be people who say they are friends or even more but will do things that hurt you, make you think less of yourself or your long time friends. Love is not selfish enough to repeatedly do or say things that they know hurts you. Love does not give you guilt trips when you tell them something hurts you, changing the talk about how you feel to how they feel. Love will not steal from you either.

In a month when everyone is caught up with candy-grams, flowers and valentine’s cards for everyone under the sun, I feel it is important to teach our kids to value love more than just those little generalized customs. They should know what love does and does not look like so they can not only show it well but recognize when a “friend” really is not one. We love our kids. We want our kids to show love. We also want to protect our kids from those who would use “love” as a way to get what they want. Teaching love to our kids is very much worth the effort.

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Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 8 years now. I am also a military spouse so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it.  As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.

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