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Your family’s ‘cake flour’ – self-donative love

A 2007 psychological study on couples by Gottman, Gottman & Declaire, revealed that there was a strong correlation between having a satisfying (respectful and pleasurable) sexual relationship  and feelings of working together to complete housekeeping and childrearing tasks!

Continuing from last Sunday’s article, today we focus on self-donative love as the flour in the cake.

In a cake, flour provides the structure; eggs bind the ingredients; butter tenderises; sugar sweetens; baking powder gives the cake airiness; milk provides moisture; essence gives flavour; and salt enhances the flavour of the other ingredients.

The ingredients for a healthy sexuality are love, responsibility, faith, respect, intimacy, cooperation, joy, personhood, with flour and eggs being love and faith; butter and sugar being responsibility and respect; milk as intimacy; cooperation as salt; joy as essence, and personhood (masculinity and femininity) as baking powder.

Therefore, if we draw a parallel, just as cake flour is, arguably, the best type of flour in cake baking, self-donative love should be used by parents in the home. Self-donative love is based on Pope St John Paul II Theology of the Body.

According to the book, Beyond the Birds and Bees, this type of love is special, and “empowers us to use our bodies, minds, souls to work for the good of others being mindful of our own God-given dignity.”

We get our dignity from being made in the image and likeness of God; we are called to love as God loves. This is so because, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1), “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.”

To be loving is to work for the good of another even when you don’t feel to. This kind of love prepares a person to do whatever is best for oneself and one’s lover at any given moment.

You may be wondering why talk about the real meaning of love in sex education. Here’s why. In Amoris Laetitia (280), it states that sex education “can only be seen within the broader framework of an education for love, mutual self-giving. In such a way, the language of sexuality would not be sadly impoverished but illuminated and enriched.”

We can encourage family members to serve each other through simple acts in a “family virtue plan”. Virtues are deliberate and repeated actions to love and nurture another regardless of how one feels, like faith, joy, respect, and service. These can be taught and caught in the home.

For example, to increase faith, families can pray together every day, parents can bless their children, families can read the Sunday’s gospel, families can pray a decade of the rosary.

To increase joy, play a sport or board game together, like cricket, football, cards, Pictionary, Monopoly, building a puzzle, playing an online game.

This can be a tough one to increase respect in the home – both parents and children can use a pleasant tone of voice when requesting something, and as Pope Francis referred to in Amoris Laetitia (133), “in the family, three words need to be used …, ‘Please’, ‘Thank You’ and ‘Sorry’. Three essential words!”

In terms of service in the home, what about if we looked for ways to help each other without being asked: washing the wares, having one piece of meat, filling back the ice tray and water jug when they are empty, among many other things.

An important skill for marriage and family life is one’s ability to put the needs of others over one’s own feelings. Therefore, no matter the child’s age or feelings at the moment, they can be taught to do good for other family members.

Visit and our social media platforms -@familylifecommission or WhatsApp 299-1047 as we seek to educate parents about healthy and age-appropriate sex and sexuality conversations with their children.