Love and affection in family life is not only natural, it is beneficial. It is the glue that holds the family together. Without it, we wouldn’t be inclined to perform the countless sacrifices required to rear children, pay the bills, cook and clean, and earn a living. What makes Krishna conscious family love and affection unique is that as devotees we know the real source of love comes from Lord Krishna, and that my wife, my husband, and my child ultimately belong to Him. With this perspective, we can offer all of our sacrifices performed in the name of family love and affection as an offering of love to Krishna, transforming even the most mundane of actions into acts of bhakti or divine love.
One of the best ways to promote family love and affection is to express our appreciation for the sacrifices we make for one another. A quick, but sincere “thank-you” for any service rendered is always appreciated. Even better is an expression of gratitude for the roles we play in each other’s lives. To one’s spouse we can say, “I really appreciate how hard you work to (keep this family together…take care of the children…keep the house clean…bring in a steady income). It’s not an easy task and I often take it for granted. I don’t always thank you for that, and I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it.” This works for children as well. Children respond positively to expressions of gratitude, as well as benefiting in the long-term by seeing good role models of love and affection. Actually, the more we thank our family member for what they do, the more we cultivate a mood of gratitude in ourselves. And the more we stay in “gratitude,” the easier it is to see how Krishna is working in our lives for our benefit. This helps us withstand those inevitable life events that seem negative or unwanted.