Family Matters #2: How do you teach loving?

By Lucia Ferrara

Note: Last fall, Precious Blood Renewal Center joined with a few community partners to present a series of Parent Cafes with the aim of supporting families and equipping them with skills for successful parenting. Read more about the Parent Café here.

“We’re not telling people what to do or how to be good parents,” I said at the time we started the project. “The café draws on the wisdom that is found in all of us. Finding that wisdom and being able to share it with others — sharing in each other’s wisdom — that’s how the café works.”

Until we can gather again in the same physical space, we’ll be sharing resources for families on our website and social media platforms.

One of the External Assets the Search Institute has identified as a building block of healthy development of not only young children but also young adults is Family Support. Family life provides high levels of love and support for everyone in the home.

The environment in which a family exists is very important. The idea is to establish a home that promotes family members’ strengths and goals, rather treating deficits.

The task of being a parent is complex and ongoing. There are different developmental stages of growth and they all require different approaches. Although some are more challenging than others, I find it to be a learning experience for both the child and parent. For example, I have three children — 23, 20 and 15 years old. They all are in different stages in life so I parent them accordingly.

Many tasks of parenting are unique to the needs of that particular child. Personally, I have found that the roughest time for me as a parent is the high school through college years. No one can prepare you for the complexity of circumstances during these years. Although it has its ups and downs, each stage of development creates growth.

Family support can look like many things. Parents need support from other adults and groups in order to give practical and emotional support and assistance. In other words, we have each other’s backs! Family support can be a friend or family member you call on to talk to. It can also be more practical, material support, such as food banks, community resources providers and clothing banks to name a few.

As I mentioned earlier, family life provides high levels of support and love. We know that love is the glue that keeps our families together, but the question I ask myself is: What if love is the glue that keeps our society together too?

I know the answer is yes!

Love is the baseline for teaching our children how to communicate, be respectful, compassionate and open with one another.

Let’s teach our children when they are young that love is what binds people, families, groups, friends, neighbors and community together. What divides us is hate and ignorance.

In today’s society, we need social competence to get along. Talk to your children about love and how to express it and put it into action. Parents have the power to teach their kids how to determine energy needed to fuel the culture of our society. The energy should be positive, for example; standing up for compassion, kindness, justice and life.

I encourage you to read St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13: 1-13). Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians urging the uniformity of belief, love, and no divisions among people. This concept can be applied to modern day today. Love and support is still the greatest gift we can give to each other.

Please consider reflecting on these questions about how your family can support and provide high levels of love and support.

1. What are your children learning from you about loving?
2. Who are your role models, or family support system for modeling love?

[Lucia Ferrara, the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions at]

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