By Ryan Weber
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18)
When I was growing up, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Dad was head over heels in love with my Mom. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the amount of times he told her that he loved her. Although I heard him say it over and over and over, every time he left the house, every time he hung up the phone, whenever he had opportunity, he told her that he loved her. But those were just the words, there was a deeper reason why I knew my Dad loved her so much.
It was all the things he did. The little kisses, the overt flirting, the hand holding, the arm around the shoulder when we were at public places, the gifts he’d buy, the trips he planned, the way he just looked at her.
Granted, when I was growing up, these things repulsed me and I threw up in my mouth a little every time I saw it happen. But everyone knew that he was crazy about her, and it continues to this day. I’m incredibly lucky to have a set of parents who have stuck together through thick and thin and are now looking forward to their 35th wedding anniversary this year.
My dad still does all those mushy, gooey things.
Now that I am married, I have a brand new appreciation for the way he demonstrated love for his wife. I saw my dad demonstrate love before I even knew what true love was. And that’s so important when it comes to the life of your student because I want to get this cat out of the bag:
Your student does not want to talk to you about love. They would rather talk to the mailman, the dentist, Siri, anyone else other than you about love, dating, sex, etc. This is an area of their lives that they want to explore and keep private. And that’s ok. It’s our job to guide our children into adulthood, not dictate their every move. They will not want to open up and share their feelings with you.
But you are a parent and you should share your feelings with them. It is your job to talk to your students and make sure they go down a path that will honor themselves, their God, you as their parents and their future spouse. So you need to engage in a healthy and meaningful conversation with your teens.
The Path is starting a series on Valentine’s Day called, “I Kissed Dating Hello,” and The Garage is beginning a series on February 7th called “The Talk.” Both are going to provide wonderful windows of opportunity for you to engage your child in this conversation. It will allow you to open up to discuss all of the important elements that your kids are probably already aware of, but it can help you frame their minds to a godly and biblical perspective.
What is the purpose of dating? What kind of person should I look for? What kind of person am I? How do I ask someone out? How do I fight? How do I break up? Why should I wait until I’m married to have sex? What in the world is sex anyway? Is sex bad or good?
Do you know all the Scriptures that relate to love, dating and marriage? Do you have a child in your home? It’s time to start memorizing those verses, and pray through their meaning so you can share a biblical perspective.
How are you going to explain to your daughter that her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and she is fearfully and wonderfully made; and no one should take advantage of her (1 Corinthians 6:19; Psalm 139:14)? How are you going to explain to your son that he needs to make a covenant with his eyes to not look with lust upon a young woman (Job 31:1)?
I would imagine having these conversations with your teens is a lot like bungee jumping. You stand there for as long as you want to buck up the courage, but eventually you just have to do it. You have to jump and allow the chips to fall where they may. I am praying that the resources that will be provided to you during our Path and Garage series will help you along this journey.
But do not forget, if you’re going to have this conversation with your student (and I pray you have the courage to make that jump), you better be prepared to practice what you preach and love your spouse, kids, coworkers, friends, etc. in the way that Jesus tells us to. That will be infinitely more effective than any awkward conversation you’ll have.
When it comes to talking to your kids about love, demonstration is your best conversation.
Love well, your kids will take notice and listen intently.