Parents Question: we are worried that we haven't really shown our kids how much we love them. We both work and have very busy lives. But we do love our three children very much. What are concrete ways we can show our love to our kids so that they can really know how much we love them?
Mom Says: Love is the cornerstone of all happy families. And love is the most important element for us as parents as we help our children to grow up strong and healthy. Of course other elements are important: truth, integrity, discipline, peace and joy are just a few. But love, for our spouse and our children, truly is the basic building block.
So here are three great ways we can better love our kids. Please be sure to pick at least one, and put it to work starting today!!
1. Physical Affirmation. All children need positive, loving touch from their parents.
The Nazi's proved this in horrible experiments they performed during World War II. They took totally healthy young children and isolate them from all physical contact. They were provided good food, lots to drink, allowed to move around and sleep in a comfortable bed. But they were not touched. There was no physical contact. Every single one of those children died. Not one survived. Not one. Just like those children, our children need our touch. Of course it must be age and gender appropriate. But it is important.
2. Verbal Affirmation. We need to look for opportunities to praise our children.
Some parents are worried that their kids might become over confident or arrogant if they praise them too much … so they don't praise them at all. In my observation, 98% of all parents don't overpraise, but many of us under-praise. Let's not make that mistake. Try to catch your children doing something good…and thank them. Speak well of your children to others (this is very important, for our kids rightly assume that what you say about them to others is how you truly feel). Even speak well of your kids when you think they aren't listening. It is a good habit for us as parents to speak well of our children. Over time it will help our kids feel loved and affirmed … and there is nothing more important.
3. Time Together: all kids spell the word LOVE as TIME.
What that means is that we must spend time with our kids if we want them to truly know that we love them. If a dad tells me how much he loves his children, but hasn't spent any quality time with them in weeks, that is a problem. We must spend time with our kids … even if that means doing things that are unusual.
Just this past Saturday I was in a meeting with a good Chinese friend in Beijing who is the CEO of two different companies. He is extremely busy, but he loves his 8 year old son tremendously. So he decided to bring his son to the meeting. It is true that it wasn't a super formal meeting, but that is still unusual. His son was very well behaved and it was clear that he was very proud of his dad. His dad was able to focus on the meeting and get the work done, but still "be" with his son in a special way.
For some parents this will be familiar territory. For others these ideas will be new. But ALL of us can improve our communication of love to our kids. And can I be honest? This area is sometimes a real weakness in many families. I myself had a Chinese dad … and he was a good and honorable man. But like most traditional Chinese fathers, he did not express his love very much. That's not his fault, that was the way his father raised him. And that was the way his grandfather raised his father … except even more so. Back through the generations, Chinese culture has not emphasized the verbal or physical communication of love from parents (especially fathers) to their children. But in today's internet culture, where are children are exposed to so much at such an early age, it is vitally important that they know, absolutely and without question, that they are richly and truly loved by us as their parents.
Dad Says: I need to get better on each of the ways that Marina points out! In fact all of us as parents can improve our 'love language' for our kids. Please share this article with your spouse. Together you can choose one of the three elements above and decide to put it to work starting today. Your children will appreciate it … and you will too. And you'll be able to share with each other some new ways you find to help your kids know how much you love them.
Thanks for being dedicated parents. Like many of us, you both sound very busy. But we all must remember that being Mom and Dad are the most important jobs we will ever have.
Let us know how we can help here at Dad Says Mom Says. As always if you've enjoyed this article, please pass it onto some friends who might benefit from it as well.