Standing at the sink with suds dripping down onto their bare feet was the fun way to wash dishes for my children when they were little.
I would pull a chair up to the sink for them to stand in and then fill the sink with warm, sudsy water. I provided little things they could wash to entertain themselves.
While I did the rest of the housework, bubbles and giggles were everywhere. And, yes, I had to clean that up too.
However, as they got older, the game became a chore, and their enthusiasm disappeared. My husband helped around the house a lot, but he hated to do the dishes, so this was one chore he avoided altogether.
One day, I asked my son, who was about ten years old, to wash the dishes. He balked at the request.
When I insisted, he said he didn’t have to do the dishes because it was a woman’s job. I asked him why he thought it was a woman’s job. He said, “Dad doesn’t do the dishes, so it must be a woman’s job.”
Later, I approached my husband with this unpleasant incident, and he said, “Well, I guess it’s time for me to start helping with the dishes.”
That night after supper, he put on one of my aprons and started doing the dishes. My husband invited him to join him. After that, it was no problem for our son to take his turn with the other kids.
This was one of those moments that made a statement to our son. Yes, men wash dishes, and helping is one way; dad demonstrates his love and partnership with their mom.
Opportunities like this occur all the time in the home.
Helping and loving each other does not go unnoticed in the eyes of children who are learning how to develop relationships of their own.
This Valentine’s Day, husbands and wives will do a lot of sweet things to show their love for each other, but what children see every day in the home is what will lay the foundation of love in their lives.
When we love our spouses, our children see that, and without a lot of effort, they learn to love naturally.
When our marriages are under tremendous stress, and we do everything we can to preserve them, our children learn not to give up on the important things of life.
Even when marriages fail, we can still teach our children lessons of love.
The first time I visited my mother-in-law after I was married, I witnessed her demonstrating mature, unselfish love.
After greeting us with hugs and good food, she asked my husband if he had been to visit his dad. They divorced when he was a teenager.
He told her he had not seen him in a while and didn’t know when he would. Without hesitation, his mother reminded him how important it was to spend time with his dad.
I was surprised because the anger and resentment between divorced parents often produce bitter statements instead of encouraging ones.
Even as I sensed a faint sound of pain in her voice, she told her son that just because they were divorced didn’t mean that he should neglect his dad.
In the years to follow, she was consistent in that behavior. I never heard her say bad things about my father-in-law.
There is a perfect love that parents can teach and demonstrate to their children to have in all situations, good and bad. Many couples include the following words in their marriage vows.
Love is patient; love is kind, it doesn’t envy, it doesn’t boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.