There are many things we wish we did better as a family, and this year we decided to simplify our process by doing one Family Character Focus™ each month, instead of trying to haphazardly work on 20 things at a time. Our theory is that we’ll feel less crazy that way and make better progress.
The goal of this focus is to arm you with resources to help you become a more loving family in 1 month. There is no wrong way to do it – just look through the ideas and choose the things that fit your family and schedule best.
Becoming a More Loving Family
The first focus we chose was “Love” because “the greatest of these…” and all that, not to mention that the month of Valentines is coming up and I’m all about multi-purposing!
1. Learn to Speak the Same Love Language
I believe the way kids best feel loved can shift over time, so I would recommend having (or helping) them take the test every couple years.
Download this love language chart to help you remember who appreciates what the most.
Use it for a family activity and have everyone draw in symbols or words to help them remember each member’s favorite languages or just use the included icons.
This post has a printable chart of suggestions for parents to use with their kids’ different love languages.
2. Read/Memorize Scripture
The best way to affect a real heart change is to renew our hearts and minds through Scripture. We love memorizing Scripture set to music, and kids love these songs from the Rizers.
Here is a list of some great scriptures to read or memorize for this focus (I’m sure we’ll be doing this multiple times):
- Matthew 5:43-48
- Mark 12:29-31
- Luke 6:31
- 1 John 4:7-8 (song above)
- John 13:34-35
- Romans 12:9-10
- 1 Corinthians 13
- 1 Corinthians 16:14
- Galatians 5:13-14
- Ephesians 4:32
- Philippians 2:3-4
- Colossians 3:14
- Hebrews 10:24
- 1 Peter 4:8
- 1 John 3:18 (there is a song for this, but I can’t find it!)
- 1 John 4:11-12
- 1 John 4:19-21
Get these Scriptures as printable sheets to be cut into cards that you can keep together in a ring or use as mirror cards.
3. Do a Love Craft
There are some neat kids’ books like Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children and Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids that talk about “bucket filling” versus “bucket dipping” – basically how the things we do affect others and ourselves.
Bucket Fillers 101 has a craft idea, making little buckets, that serves as a great object lesson for kids – the importance of their actions as well as how they allow others’ actions to affect them.
Bonus: Download this Bucket Filling chart to fill out as a family with practical ways to show love to each other.
Hat tip to: Busy Kids Happy Mom for the idea with her handmade chart. (You can always just print it in black and white if the color is too bright for your liking.)
4. Write Valentine/Love Letters
For our family, learning about love is directly related to learning about and growing in our relationships with God, since God IS love. I came across the idea to write a Valentine letter to Jesus, which I thought could be an interesting exercise. This is an example of one someone did.
You can obviously also write love letters to each other as a family activity.
Bonus: Download this cute heart stationery for your loving letters 🙂
5. Do Love Devotionals
- Weekly online devotionals from the author of the 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman.
- Online devotionals on love at Authentic Christianity from one of the twentieth century’s foremost pastors and biblical expositors, Ray Stedman.
- Love Out Loud: 365 Devotions for Loving God, Loving Yourself, and Loving Others from Joyce Meyer
- The One Year Love Language Minute Devotional from Gary Chapman
- The Love as a Way of Life Devotional: A Ninety-Day Adventure That Makes Love a Daily Habit
- The Love & Respect Experience: A Husband-Friendly Devotional that Wives Truly Love
- The Love Dare Day by Day: A Year of Devotions for Couples
- God’s Promises of Love: 30 Christian Devotions about God’s Love and Acceptance (God’s Love Book 2)
- Love is a Verb Devotional: 365 Daily Inspirations to Bring Love Alive
6. Do Random Acts of Kindness
I really love this simple idea of painting little hearts on rocks and leaving them for people to find. You could even add a little Bible reference or something for added meaning. UPDATE: we did it! See our process here.
Tons more ideas at the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation!
- Clanging Cymbals . . . and the Meaning of God’s Love (Adventures in Odyssey)
- Sermons on love from John MacArthur
- Sermons on love from John Piper
8. Use an Encouragement System
We’ve tried various methods to encourage good behavior over the years, but I would have to say that our favorite is using Deck of Awesome cards.
For this focus we would be watching for when our kids are loving and thinking of others, and give them a card when they do an especially good job. Our policy has been that when they collect 10 cards they can turn them in for a quarter, but you can let the cards be the reward in itself, or do something special with them or give them a treat or something instead of money, and you can obviously change up the number of cards to whatever works best for your family. Something fun about these cards is that they also fit together to make a puzzle. They’re basically like the trading cards of good behavior 🙂
If you don’t want to purchase anything you can always make your own or use one of the many chart systems or come up with your own creative idea.
- The Love Dare
- Love Dare Cards: 40 Daily Dares
- The Love Dare for Parents
- Memorize Your Bible 112 Verses Every Christian Should Know and Understand About God’s Love
- Created For Love
- The 5 Love Languages of Children
- The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
- Bucket Filling from A to Z: The Key to Being Happy
- Will You Fill My Bucket? Daily Acts of Love Around the World
Kids of Integrity has a great collection of ideas for character focuses, and this one on Kindness may be helpful with some overlap for Love.
Have a great idea or resource we should add to this list? Let us know!
Check out focuses for other months here.