NWFP Values Course – Love

“Love is the foundation of our work. We aim to create spaces where caregivers, parents and children are truly welcomed, accepted and cared for.”

Everyone experiences love differently. So defining what love is can be hard.
How you personally define love is actually less important than recognizing that it is different for everyone.

The basis of love is respect, kindness, and a genuine concern for someone’s well being.

But how this is expressed and received is very individual. There are also different kinds of love – romantic, familial, friendship, admiration for an idea or an object, a place, a type of food, etc.

We express love for many different things:

– people


-personal preferences.

We receive love through:

  • physical touch
  • spoken and written words
  • practical help
  • companionship
  • emotional support
  • nearness and being together
  • celebration
  • remembering
  • attention

…and the list goes on!

“Love is different for everyone. We all have memories, good and bad, that influence the way we do and do not want to be loved. It can be really easy to take for granted that other people experience live in the same we do. But this just isn’t the case and this miscommunication can cause a lot of problems…”

Amanda Dettloff

What did that look like? How did it feel? Is this different from how your family or friends experience it? Have you had conflict or mixed feelings when someone expresses their care and love in a way that you don’t relate to? 

Take a minute to complete this quiz and write down your results. 

For some, words are more important than gifts. For others, it’s all about time spent together and not what was spent. 

Take some time to think about someone else in your life – a family member, a friend, a colleague and how their results might be different from yours. Does this help you to adjust the ways in which you express your love for them? 

For example, my partner loves quality time – it doesn’t matter what we’re doing as long as we do it together. He also finds gift giving extremely stressful, whereas I love shopping and finding the perfect gift for others as well as receiving a thoughtful gift. I thrive on words of encouragement, and he prefers hugs and physical nearness. Early in our marriage we would have arguments and he’d still want to be holding my hand, while I would want to go to different room and be away from him while we were having an argument.

We often think of LOVE as a huge thing – all encompassing. 

But knowing someone’s name or remembering their coffee and tea preferences is a loving thing. Remembering that one of the children who comes to drop in adores trains, and making sure the train set is available for them is a loving thing. Showing someone where to hang their coat, listening attentively, sharing food, holding space, these are all acts of love. 

Even in conflict, we can be loving. Think about a time when you were in conflict with a colleague – taking a moment to find out how they are feeling that day can be a loving act, instead of letting your own emotions and assumptions colour how you treat them.  

Noticing the parent or caregiver who is stressed, subtly overwhelmed and being near to them to co-regulate is loving. Bearing with a toddler through a tantrum or an outburst of emotion and making sure they feel heard before you move to correction and advice or discipline is an act of love. Saying thankyou, and recognizing the work and contributions of others, even if it’s something as simple as “thank you for sweeping the floor today” is an act of love. Sweeping the floor and preparing the space for families and guests, providing food and drink, the act of simple hospitality and making safe space is loving. 

Having clear intentions and following through with good boundaries is a loving thing to do because then people know where they stand with you. We often confuse love with servitude – always putting other people first. But love can also be saying no. Love can look like consistency.

Some of the ways we express the value of love at Family Place include: 

  • Quality time – witnessing with compassion and spending time with families
  • Word of affirmation – telling caregivers they are doing a great job from a strengths based approach, noticing what’s happening in the moment and recognizing the kiddos growth as well; Connecting with parents around who they are and what their skills are outside of just being “mom” or “dad” 
  • Acts of service – someone opening the door, seeing the micro struggles and helping them; remembering how they like their coffee or little things about them; having food and coffee set up ahead of time so that people feel welcome when they arrive. 
  • Gift Giving – lots of free stuff and support – this one can be tricky because people take/receive things differently and some want more than others based on their perspective and their trauma. But we can put proper boundaries in place to ensure that gift giving is a part of our expression of love. 
  • Physical touch – We always do this with explicit consent. We ask things like “do you need a hug? Can I give you a high five?” and respect the other person’s response and needs for touch or space.

How do you notice they feel loved? Is it different from how you give and receive love? Write down some of your observations and make a plan to test them out. Do one thing today that might be loving for one of those people and see how it impacts your connection. 

What is one loving thing you could do in your work today? For your colleagues? For the families? What is one small act of love you can do for yourself today? How could you approach a conflict with love? 

Five Love Languages: https://5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language

Consent: https://www.safesecurekids.org/teaching-consent