This morning, my daughter wanted to wear some longer shorts or capris. Unfortunately for her, she’s had several growth spurts over the winter and is wearing clothing a full size above where she should be.
And unfortunately for me, I got hit with the blunt end of the whiny stick today.
She began to deconstruct why said capris were actually not big enough to be worn to school and how I should be on top of situations like this with emergency clothing provisions.
Actually what she said was more like this: “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddy!” (When you imagine the voice make sure it’s high and nasally.)
As almost any parent in the world would, I became frustrated and walked away from the conversation to continue what I was doing previous to this unwanted interaction. I felt that flush of anger and instead of reacting to her button pushing, I turned, reached out for her face and said, “I love you”. I kissed her forehead and told her it’s no big deal.
I would love to tell you it’s because I have evolved to be some sort of uber parent but that would be a lie. The truth behind my reaction is that I’ve been reminded lately how fleeting life truly is. I have seen how life can crash all around a family in just a matter of seconds and felt the heartbreak of impending loss.
Think back to when your children were born. Are you there?
Remember what it felt like to rush to the hospital, trying to stay calm and call family on the way? Remember when you got in your room and the process started? Close your eyes and see your baby coming into this world—screaming, naked, vulnerable and completely beautiful. Can you hear your child’s first cries? Does your heart recall how precious that sound was?
Our first-born squawked one time and just lay there observing everything that was going on around her. She didn’t cry the rest of the night. Our second-born was just the opposite. The moment his lungs took in breathable air, those vocal chords got a work out. He hasn’t stopped since.
Or how about your first night home with your first born? Ours was a wreck! We had no clue what to do with this little human. Anytime she made the slightest noise, we picked her up fearing that she wasn’t breathing or that she was choking or something equally crazy. No one slept that first night. But after a few days and nights we got the hang of it.
Think back to how this little bundle of joy rocked your world with a step or word. Take yourself to a place when you wondered how you could have been so blessed with such an amazing child. Recall those days when all you did was play with your kids and how they took you back to your own childhood.
Now come back to the present. Look at your child now.
Do you still see them with the same wonderment? Do you still feel that same sense of awe at how you were blessed with them?
I’ll confess. I am a nostalgic person so I tend to see my children in light of how quickly time goes by, but I will say that as they have gotten older, I’ve lost some of that wonder and awe.
I think it’s just a natural thing that takes place if we don’t work to continually see our children like the gifts they are. I realize that some kids can and do act out in unhealthy and even dangerous ways. And that might be where you’re at, but please never forget that person is still your baby boy or girl. They may be lost and confused but they are still your baby.
I’ve observed and worked with families for the past 12 years. Here are some things we’ve seen and implemented in our family to show our kids we love them.
- Spend time with each of your children individually. Create memories for them that they will remember.
- Hold hands with your kids (teen boys don’t really go for this one).
- Introduce your children to people. Don’t ignore them.
- Put encouraging notes in their lunch or backpacks.
- Don’t interrupt your kids while they are speaking. You know you hate it, so do they.
- Try to say yes more.
- Make your home a place where your child brings their friends. It’s not about stuff, it’s about you loving them and their friends.
- Brag about your kids and make sure you do it when they can hear you.
- Make dinner together a top priority. Don’t sit in front of the TV.
- Ask about their day. Make sure that you listen and give them your undivided attention.
- Play with them when they are younger and get interested in their interests when they’re older.
- Attend their games, plays, concerts, matches or whatever your child does. And be there as much as you can.
- Celebrate their wins and accomplishments. Whether it’s a game winning touchdown or a good grade on a math test, celebrate your child every chance you can.
This short list is by no means a complete way to show your kids how much you love them but it’s a good start. Whatever it is you do make sure that you’re doing something every day. I’ve never seen an adult struggle in life from their parents showing them too much love.
After I kissed my daughter she started to relax and our morning went back to its normal routine. We got ready for school, ate breakfast, brushed teeth, got in the car and drove to school. As she gathered her school things she said, “Love you Daddy,” and got out of the car. Before she walked away she stopped and blew me a kiss. That kiss shattered my heart and I asked God to give me the wisdom to show my kids love every moment I’m on this earth.
If I do nothing on this earth but that, I will have lived a good life.