"Mommy, how did you and Daddy meet?" my six-year-old asks.
Good thing we didn't meet in a bar, though we sure ventured out to many of them early in our relationship. Then I would have to explain to her what that is, why people go there, what they do there, and what I surely never did there, like dance on a counter...numerous times. Eek. Nope.
"Mommy and Daddy met at a restaurant," I tell her, and then, of course, she wants to hear more of the story. So does my son, who also requires Daddy to kiss and hug Mommy every night before he agrees to lay down in his bed.
When our children are young, they sort of only understand love as one thing; this grandiose, unconditional feeling that you feel from and towards your family members which usually shows itself to you in the form of caretaking and helping.
It's hard for children to understand romantic love, and of course, until they are of the appropriate age, we don't want them to. However, their curiosity will be peaked early on and sharing with them where and how Mom and Dad met can teach them some valuable lessons about life, love, and relationships.
Your individual story and how you grew up matters, and so does your story of how your family came to be. Being open with your children about your past and the steps that it took place to create the family dynamic you have today (leaving out any baby-making details until it's time for that talk) will help your child develop a foundation and understanding of love; what it is, what it means, what it looks, what it shouldn't look like, and how confusing all of it may be.
Here's what your child will learn from you sharing your "how Mommy met Daddy," story:
- That they can and will meet interesting people anywhere, anytime if their eyes and ears (and heart) are open to such.
- That sometimes they will meet great people when they least expect it.
- That first impressions aren't all that matter. While they must trust their gut and instinct, like I did when mine told me to date my now husband, but they must also allow for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th impressions.
- That sometimes the people we meet are guarded and time is needed to get to know them.
- That where they meet someone tells them a little about them; maybe that they are a hard worker or a lover of books, or that they like to party.
The story of you and your spouse is an important one and one that your children want to know; so why keep it from them? Don't. What you share will begin to teach them what love looks like.
For us, love looked like me applying to the restaurant where my now husband worked, so that I could be near him.
It looked like my husband halting his plans to go backpacking through Europe so that he could spend his money and time on courting me instead.
It looked like him moving from FL to Boston to live with me while I finished school.
It looked like him following me to law school in Miami.
It looked like me leaving law school because it was forcing me to spend far too little time with him.
It looked like me agreeing to move to Virginia to be close to his family.
It looked like both of us deciding to add a child to our partnership; to grow our hearts and share our love with another human being.
It looked like me going back to work and my husband giving me daily support when the stress of working for an attorney was just too much.
It looked like my husband working hard to support our little family financially so that I could quit the job that was making me so unhappy.
It looked like my husband, standing strong and glued to my side when my father passed away unexpectedly.
It looked like my husband and I living apart for a bit after I moved to FL to be with my family and he was still working in Virginia.
It looked like my husband moving to Florida to be closer to my family.
It looked like us deciding to have more children.
It looked like us supporting each other through the ups and downs that come with marriage and parenting and unexpected curve balls from life.
Love looks like many things, but one thing pretty standard about most loving relationships is that they are fluid and they require the people in them to be, as well. Love is you giving, but love is also you getting. Love is you winning, but sometimes love is also you losing. Love can be easy and times and love can be hard at times. The one thing love always is -- defining and growth-provoking.
Your story looks like something; something impressive, something beautiful. Your account is something that is going to teach your children something, and that is why you need to share with your children how Mommy met Daddy.
Even if you met in a bar because you were dancing on it and your husband couldn't take his eyes off of you, at least your children will learn that Mommy's got cool dance moves.
Even if you met on a dating site, your children would learn that love and good relationships don't always come easy and that sometimes you must seek out a positive connection to find someone whose values and passions are compatible with yours.
Even if you met on a blind date, your children would learn that sometimes the unknown and the unexpected can be unexpectedly amazing.
What's your love story? What does it look like?
When your children inquire, share it with them; they will only benefit from it.
This article originally appeared on EverydayFamily Inc. at this link.