Telling people, especially your children, how much you love them, is one of the most important and glorious things about being alive. Loving, and being loved – hey, isn’t that what it’s all about! So, the question is, how can you tell your kids you love them? How can you help your children know they are truly loved? Growing up with strong self esteem was the number one objective I had for my son. I considered it my most important role as a parent to instill in him a strong sense of confidence. I wanted him to have a positive self image and to think rightly about himself.
This, I believed, would equip him unlike anything else to navigate in the world. To do so meant grounding him with the solid knowing that he was absolutely loved. So, I purposed to do everything I could to nurture such love. Recognizing that communication happens on a variety of levels, I chose to follow Dr. Gary Chapman’s love languages, and employ as many as possible whenever possible.
- Verbal affirmation. Telling people you love them takes many different shapes and forms. First and foremost, of course, are those three magical little words. I love you. Admitting it, verbally, is a big deal. I love you. There is a certain vulnerability in those eight letters. They matter. So, I tell my son I love him often.
- Quality time. Spending time with my son is fun. We find mutual things we enjoy doing together, and make time for each other. The rewards are always priceless. We have fond memories of getting a pizza, watching favorite TV shows and singing the theme songs together (or, maybe it was just me doing the singing). Taking a walk to the local ice cream parlor was always a treat. Every night before bed, we spent a few moments sharing the end of a full day. And then there was ping pong.
- Acts of service. Going to kids’ activities is a regular part of parenting. As I found myself switching out of my own activities and now into his, it became more fun to get more involved, and a way I could show my son how important he was to me. So, I coached his soccer team, umpired his Little League games, and rooted for him at karate tournaments.
- Gifts. Learning how to give good gifts was something my son actually helped teach me. It was disheartening to me to find that my gift choices weren’t always received well. Eventually, he helped me learn how to give gifts that he really liked.
- Physical touch. Physical closeness adds such a powerful element of warmth. One of my fondest memories that I will cherish forever was the day my son and I went to the mall together. A young adolescent, I tried to be sensitive to his need for space. However, we walked through the mall together with his arm around me. This totally unsolicited gesture assured me, forever, that I had accomplished my goal.
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