Although it is natural for parents and grandparents to love their offspring, showing and giving love throughout their lives is not always the reality!
In the movie Frozen, which I confess I watched a total of three times so far, (spoiler alert) the moral of the story (as I interpreted it) was that while we often seek true love in all kinds of places and people, it often is right under our noses and is unconditional.
This is the kind of love I believe every child deserves to have. However, as a parent myself, who became a single parent after a divorce, I know first hand it is not always easy to express that love. Whether it’s the challenges of survival, misplaced priorities, relationship history, life experiences, misguided intentions and perhaps other factors have in far too many instances resulted in many of our children missing out on knowing that love feels like.
If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money ~ Abigail Van Buren
Just watch one or two reality shows or follow any local or national news story about any tragedy involving teenagers and young adults, and it always comes down to lack of attention and expressions of love from parents! It may not always be described that way or the media may not always portray it that way but in the end, when the dust settles, it inevitably be connected.
So, what’s a parent or grandparent to do?
Here are ten things you can do throughout the life of your child to convey your love and admiration and teach them some valuable life lessons: (even when it hurts to do so)
- Begin at birth to say I Love You at least once everyday and if you have not been doing it, no matter the age of your child, it is never too late. As an adult living in a different country than my only living parent, I cannot tell you the joy it brings me when we exchange I Love You at the end of telephone call and in emails.
- Give lots of hugs and smooches (for as long as they let you :-)) The human touch is one of if not the most powerful ways to convey caring
- Communicate openly and honestly, in age appropriate terms. Far too often parents neglect to have conversations with children. Instead, we tend to lecture or inform about the things we think are important, without ever giving them a chance to ask and receive the information they think they need.
- Be present when it counts. When children see you taking an interest in their activities it boots their confidence and, reminds them that you you’ve got their back. Although it might be challenging, there is always a way, we just need to be sufficiently interested and willing to make sacrifices.
- Be silly, down and dirty every chance you get. There is nothing more telling to children than the willingness of adults to play and laugh with them. These are the memories they will take with them throughout their lives and draw upon when they need reassurance.
- Share family history. I cannot overstate how important this is and how much your children will come to appreciate it when they become adults. It helps them understand where they came from and gives them a deeper sense of belonging.
- Stay in your lane! Despite having a great, open relationship with your child, never cross the line into becoming friends, until they reach adulthood. Until then, they need a loving parent to guide them through their relationships when they find friends in more appropriate places.
- Be consistent. Children need to know we are indeed there to guide and protect them and setting boundaries that you honor no matter what, will help them learn to trust you at your word and appreciate that you want to protect them.
- Keep it simple. Ever heard about the child who received an expensive toy and immediately had a fascination with the empty box? Rather than spoiling kids with excess and overpriced material things, simple, inexpensive toys and games etc will stimulate them and help stretch their imaginations and creativity. Instead, spoil them with your time and displays of affection.
- Love unconditionally. This might be the hardest of all but no matter how upset you become at your childs behavior the consequences of their actions should never mean they feel unloved. It’s OK that they feel your wrath, anger and disappointment etc. but be sure you remember it’s the behavior you dislike and not them.
Clearly this list is not exhaustive and there are lots of other ways to show your children you love them but, these 10 things certainly cannot hurt.
What are some other ways parents can show children they love them?
As always, wishing you happy times until our paths cross again!
From our hearts to yours, Daniella and Granny.