Love is very much a matter of actions rather than emotions. However, although this emphasis on acts of love is certainly necessary, we can sometimes give the impression that love doesn’t involve any emotion – that it is entirely an act of the will, of one’s duty, regardless of how one feels. We can even promote the “I can love him but I can’t like him” type of attitude. The Bible does not support such an unbalanced concept of love…fervently, fondly, and affectionately (are used in the Bible) to describe the love Christians ought to have for one another… Obviously such a fervency of spirit cannot substitute for loving actions, but surely it should accompany them. We dare not settle for less.
Parental affection is very powerful. It makes the parent, and the parent’s God, attractive. It communicates love and acceptance. We might tell our children that we love them, but affection convinces them. It is the bridge over which love passes to our children. Affection is the hammer that drives the nail of truth deep into their hearts. It would be hard to overstate the importance of affection.
Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.
Kent and Barbara Hughes suggest the following to built family affection:
1. “The best possible foundation for building affection: love for God…We are able to love God and others through the reception of God’s love. Loving God is what makes other loves endure. This discipline, the day-to-day empowerment to live out this love for people who aren’t always “lovable,” is what fosters the ongoing growth of affection.”
2. “It is essential, then, if a family is to develop the bonds of affection, that the children have the assurance of their parents’ love for one another.”
3. “An obvious place to enhance family affection is at the dinner table. That is the single best daily opportunity families have for all gathering together…We encourage you never to surrender that choice time, for it is an unsurpassed opportunity to build family life.”
4. “Family vacations were at the heart of building the Hughes clan’s affections…we made disciplined investment in family vacations…Sometimes brief, spontaneous mini-vacations can (also) have important results in developing family unity and affection.”
5. “Mutual interests builds affection…Wise parents know this and look for a common interest or adopt their children’s interests as their own.”
6. “Families that learn to appreciate their points of uniqueness and to chuckle at their idiosyncrasies pull together in affection rather than apart in irritation.”
7. “The home is the place to be sentimental, corny, even weird for the sake of affection.”
8. “Wise parents who wish to enhance familial bonds will do their best to keep up the communication with grandparents and spent time with them if possible. Few things can be more elevating to family than loving affection extended across generations.” (Kent and Barbara Hughes).
[Affection] is one of the key ingredients in the socialization of a child. Without it, a child may seem to assimilate the values taught by the parents without actually adopting them. Proper [affection] prepares the child mentally and emotionally to accept moral tenets and correct patterns for relationships with other people (James Robison).
It is the father’s responsibility to make the child know that he is deeply in love with the child’s mother. There is no good reason why all evidence of affection should be hidden or carried on in secret. A child who grows up with the realization that his parents are lovers has a wonderful basis of stability.