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For our kids, what is true love?

February is famous for being the “month of love.”

Valentine’s day is right around the corner and surely many people are making plans for special dates or gifts. Kids will soon start getting cards ready to hand out to their classmates. Chocolates and teddy bears and roses will be purchased, all with the hope of brightening up someone’s day, or letting that special person know just how special they are. It’s a sweet time of the year, isn’t it?

William Glasser (an American psychiatrist) once identified five basic human needs that must be met in order for a person to live a full and healthy life. One of these - and perhaps the most important, according to Glasser - is the need for love and belonging. Here is a summary of that need:

“The need for Love & Belonging includes the drive to be connected with others, such as friends, family, intimate partners, co-workers, pets and the groups you affiliate with.”

This is one of the reasons why a day like Valentine’s day can be so special for us.

We want to do things that reinforce our connection with the people we like and love. It’s natural. But here’s something else to consider - our kids need that sense of connection on a regular basis.

The need for love and belonging can’t just be something special that is fulfilled on one particular day of the year, but something that is emphasized and pursued and regarded as important every single day. Our kids - just like us - have a basic need to feel like someone loves them and cares about them and will be there for them. They have a need to feel valued. They have a need for connection, and this connection is best met first in the parental relationship.

Brené Brown says this:

"When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible."

What does this mean? It means that our children need to know that they have a sense of worthiness and a value that is not based on their performance, but is solely based on who they are as individuals. They need to know that they matter, and don't need to feel like they have to earn our approval.

We do this by regularly reminding our kids of our love, by depositing into their minds a sense of their worth, by telling them how proud we are of them, and how happy they make us.

When we do these things, we give our kids a love that impacts their sense of worth, which satisfies that need for belonging and connection.

So, here is our encouragement for this month - let’s really love our kids. Connect with them. Help them to have their need for love and belonging met in small ways every day. When we do this, we are helping them to become healthy adults who will then turn and meet that need in others.

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