Three Key Words Your Kids Are Longing to Hear
So I’m new at this whole parenting thing and it seems every book and blog I read has a list of things one has to do in order to be a good parent. Often these lists have conflicting advice.
“Get your kids involved in a variety of experiences.”
“Focus on one or two experiences and focus your time and effort at mastering them.”
“Use apps and technology to augment your child’s learning.”
“Limit screen time.”
I could go on and on as there is no shortage of parenting advice as I’m learning. I’m also learning that even those who give the advice are still trying to figure this thing out and what works for one family may not work for another.
I’m learning as I go and making a lot of mistakes. But one thing I hope my boys will always know is that I love being with them. I mean, I really enjoy being with them. I love their unique personalities. I love getting on the floor and playing with them. I love being “Daddy Bear” and chasing them around the house. I love pretending to eat cupcakes that are really just Duplo blocks. I love singing silly songs and “eating their itty bitty wibbies.” Someday, these games will change and they won’t wipe off my kisses so that I give them more kisses, in fact, someday, they likely won’t let me kiss them in public at all. And that’s ok. I just hope that they’ll always know that I love being with them. When I’m not with them, I’m thinking about being with them.
Sure, they wear me out. They’re not always perfect angels. But it doesn’t really matter. They’re my sons and I love to spend time with them because of who they are.
Kara Powell of the Fuller Youth Institute wrote about this in a recent blog post on theparentcue.org:
One study of relational dynamics in more than 300 families spanning 35 years analyzed the power of warmth among the generations. Family warmth was more correlated with faith transmission than any other relational factor (including amount of contact between the generations, the type of contact, and the number of children in the family).
In other words, families in which parents and children felt close were more likely to be the same families in which children also adopted the faith of their parents. So letting our kids know that we like them not only bonds our family closer together, it also increases the odds that our kids will keep their faith.
So how do we communicate we like our kids? First, through our words.
As I’ve pondered the research on family faith and relationships, I’m convinced that there are three words your kids are longing for you to say to them: “I like you.” They’ve probably heard “I love you” from you more times than they can count.
But do they know you actually enjoy them as people?
I hope my boys know that I actually like them as people. I hope they know I like being with them, that I like the way Levi’s eyes get wide when he’s telling a story, or the way Wyatt gets a crooked little toothy smile when he’s up to something. I just like them.
I just hope they know that, and that they’ll always know that.