As a Dad with both a boy and two girls, I know how busy things can get, and sometimes I feel like we’re all so busy doing stuff — even just playing or bicycling around or swimming at the pool — that sometimes we parents forget to say something nice or do something nice for our kids.
In particular, when was the last time you hugged your child or told them that you loved them?
I don’t mean that every day needs to be mushy and full of never-ending cuddles. I don’t think any child would stay still for that! But instead, I’m talking about the kind of thing we try to do every day, just taking a few seconds to express your love and appreciation.
Today, for example, my 5yo boy and I were about to go on a bike ride when I turned to him and said “Hey!”
me: “You know what?”
me: “I love you!”
He didn’t say “I love you too”, but he doesn’t need to say that for me to know just how important I am in his life. In fact, it’s funny how programmed we are to say “I love you too” when someone tells us that they love us, which is kinda too bad. Sometimes a sweet “I know, honey” or “Mmmmm…” or “I’m so glad” are a lot more honest and genuine responses.
Oh, and after I told my son G- that I loved him, I continued…
me: “Of course, I don’t always like you, but even when you’re driving me crazy and I don’t like how you’re behaving, you know that I still love you and always will, right?”
he: <squirms, grins>
me: “And I bet that sometimes you don’t like me so much either, eh?”
he: <grins again>
me: “That’s okay. No-one likes someone else all the time. But sometimes being mad at someone sure doesn’t mean that you don’t love them all the time, does it?”
… and so we biked off into the sunset, both happy to know where we stood. He has a big piece of my heart, and I have a super-special place in his.
I grew up in foster care, and always swore that when I had kids, I’d tell them a hundred times a day how much they’re loved. And I do.. my three-year-old probably gets sick of me kissin her cheeks all the time, but I know she knows that I love her better than the best Belgian chocolate.
Even so, some days? I wonder if I tell her enough.
Having had the pleasure of meeting you, Shylah, I’m sure your daughter knows in her heart just how lucky she is to have a Mom like you! 🙂
You know I hug and kiss my two kids constantly. I am always touching them on the arm or rubbing their heads. I just want them to know that even when I don’t say I love you, which I do all the time, that I am loving them in actions not just words. It seems to be working too, my 3 yo was rubbing our 2 yo sons arm and he got mad. When asked why she was bugging him, she said “I’m loving him Momma, not bugging!”
Aw, shucks, Dave. Thanks. Your kids are pretty lucky, too. Having known little more than absent fathers in my life, I’m awed by the fathers I know now who love their kids as much as I love mine. The world needs more of you guys.
My 13 month old daughter has just started to whisper, “I luv oo” back to me as I put her to sleep. Then she gently pats my back.
Starlight can’t match the miracle of a child’s love.
I re-read this article frequently as it warms my heart in a wonderful way. I’ve never posted a reply to any of your blogs, Dave, but I’ve wanted to, just to tell you what a wonderful father and example you are to everyone.
I love being an attached parent. In some ways it means more to me because I’m a working, single mom. Cosleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing – all of it has just made me feel so much closer to my son.
I just wanted to comment that having been an abused child myself, I never wanted any child of mine to feel that hurt, especially the emotional hurt. I tell my son many times a day that I love him, and when I am close to his face when I say it, he leans his cheek to mine and sighs. Nothing is sweeter.
I agree with all of you. I just saw a show were a mother lost her beautiful 4 year old daughter to a drowning. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. She was getting a tattoo of her daughter on her back. This broke my heart, so I went into my 2 daughters bedrooms this evening while they were sleeping to tell them I love them. I always hug and kiss and tell my daughters I love them every morning before they go to school. Unfortunately, you never know if one of us is not going to return home. If you haven’t told your love ones that you love them lately, please take the time to do so now. You never know when it will be your last.
Dave, I love the way you explained that you don’t always ‘like’ each other… very important.
My girls are still so young and sweet (3 yrs and 11 months) that I’m always cuddling and kissing them. I think it gets harder to remember to say “I love you” as they get older. At this age, it’s so easy.