I love my kids. Like, really, REALLY love my kids. When I think about the amazing little people they are and that they are becoming and the fact that they are my little gifts that God made for me, I actually feel an ache in my chest from loving them so much. Whether you get a physical reaction or not, I would be willing to bet that you intensely love your children as well. It has been my experience that 99% of parents love their kids just because they are their kids. What has also been my experience is that the percentage of time children FEEL loved by their parents, especially in a complete and unconditional way, is not as high. So where does that discrepancy come from? Well, sometimes there can be a big difference between feeling love and being loving. We have to make sure in our words and our actions that we are communicating love to our children.
So, how do we communicate unconditional love to our children? What does being a loving parent really look like? I would argue that there are many ways we can be loving towards our children, and some are not as obvious as others. I’m talking about actions and behaviors that will connect our children to that feeling we hold in our hearts. The benefits of making that connection are enormous: increased confidence and self-esteem, a greater ability to be resilient in the face of challenges, and many more. One of the best benefits is that many of the ways we can show love to our children simultaneously provide them with the guidance they need to grow up to be responsible, well-balanced adults.
Well, as you might imagine, it is impossible to cover this entire topic in only one article. It is my intent to make each article this school year about different parenting choices you can make that will help your children say, “I know my mom and dad love me.” They will not only cover the “whats” you can do, but also the “hows” of doing them. And you may be surprised that it is not just all about hugs and cuddles and “I love yous” (though there is some of that, too!)
So for now, I suggest you begin with the simplest way to communicate love to your children. Stop what you are doing. Look them in the eyes and say, “I love you. I am so happy God made you just the way you are and then gave you to me. I don’t know how I got to be so blessed.” I don’t care how old they are or even if they react with an eye roll and a “whatever;” you will make an impact. You will send a little of that feeling in your heart into theirs. And they need that, because they love you, too.