And if we spoke “Love”?
When you start to broach the subject of love with your children, it is not always easy to describe this feeling, and even less the different forms it can take. Indeed, we say as well that we “love our friends”, that we “love our children or our parents”, that we “love our lover”… How to navigate for the youngest ?
Let's try to see a little more clearly and define them in an affordable way.
love in love
We immediately think of him when we use the word “Love”. It designates both the romantic aspect of a relationship and the more physical aspect of desire. It establishes a notion of physical attraction, exempt from other forms of love.
To express it to a child, we can tell him that this is what he or she feels when he always wants to be with the other, to take his hand, to kiss him. That we have the impression that it's “stronger than us”, that it's unpredictable and that it can't be ordered. And often, we feel that for only one person, who has something specific for us.
You can also feel a whole host of physical sensations when you think of that special girl or boy; our heart beats faster, we feel blushed, we can have sweaty palms and be intimidated... and that's completely normal!
It can also be a very good way to approach a subject that is sometimes delicate for children: love in love will also give rise to other less pleasant emotions, such as anger, jealousy, sadness, disappointment... and not not prevent. Having it in mind will allow the child not to worry too much if he hears his parents as a couple arguing, for example. Explain that it is not because we argue that we do not like each other or that we no longer love each other. Sometimes yes, but sometimes not at all. Make him understand that arguments are part of life… and of love!
Here is another type of love that will be very present in the life of your child: friendship. He is the one we feel for his friends, he integrates the notions of mutual aid, support, mutual esteem. There is a very strong dimension of sharing and exchange.
You can simply talk about it to your child by taking examples around you or him. From 6-7 years old, you can also introduce the notion of empathy and mutual respect. That it is as important to be listened to and supported as to listen and support. Also talk to him about trust, learning to apologize and avoiding betrayals.
It can also be an opportunity to remind him that we are not necessarily friends only with people who look like us. That difference and complementarities are wonderful things to be friends with!
This one is pretty easy to discuss with your child since it involves both of you. It is about the love between parents and children, and by extension the love within the same family (grandparents, brothers/sisters, etc.). There is in this love a dimension of loyalty and commitment.
When talking about this type of love, it may be important to insist on the fact that it is a type of relationship that we do not choose, and that we are not obliged to invest excessively. . In other words, that the child does not feel obliged to “love” his brothers and sisters, his grandparents, his uncles and aunts, under the pretext that they are from the same family. Even if there is a good chance that he loves them deeply, it is very important to make the child understand that he/she is free to feel what he/she feels.
You don't have to devote all your life of unconditional love to your parents, siblings or grandparents. And even if it is often difficult for a father or a mother to hold this speech, keep in mind that it will serve your child for all his life, and that it will release him from an enormous weight when he will argue with his brother and his sister!
Before approaching the fourth kind of love which is a little apart, it seems important to us to stop on one point. Talking about love with your child, whether in love, friendship or filial, can be a great way to also talk about intimacy, consent, what can or cannot be done depending on the love that the we feel.
Prevention also involves this kind of very simple discussion and small easy-to-say sentences like "You know, nobody can do something with your body that you don't want", or "Nobody has the right to touch you or kiss you if you don't want to”, or even “If someone tells you that he doesn't want you to approach him, touch him, kiss, you have to respect it and don't do it.” These words mark without frightening, and by dint of being repeated, end up being perfectly integrated and acting preventively!
This kind of love is more abstract and therefore more difficult to approach with a child, but why not! It concerns everything related to the love of the Other, humanism. It may have a spiritual dimension that is not easy to approach with your child, but you can remain quite general and introduce the notion of generosity, empathy, unconditional.
Either way, you may feel the need for materials to help you discuss this with your children.
You can opt for a well-made book: Love and friendship , collection My little questions