I am grateful for poignant parenting moments when I feel a deep, unconditional love for my children. These moments remind me how lucky I am to be a parent, and how much I want my children to feel loved. When children feel love, they are happy and can radiate love to everyone around them. Children who do not feel love or receive appropriate affection struggle in life, as this blog post from Psychology Today reports. I'm suggesting 5 powerful ways to show your children love. Read them and feel inspired to act.
1. Learn their language
Just like your spouse or mate, your children have ways they feel love best. Make your love matter by loving them in the ways they prefer. For my youngest daughter, affection is how she feels love. I remind myself to hug and snuggle her often. Another daughter prefers time spent together, so I try to spend a few minutes one-on-one each day. All my children seem to like gifts, and my son beams when he receives praise. Spend some time learning about love languages and thinking about your children. Then try to show love in those ways.
2. Serve them unconditionally
I have learned throughout my life that I love those whom I serve. My children are no different. The constancy parents show as they nurture and care for their children lets them know, sometimes subconsciously, that they are loved. Occasionally I will do one of my children's chores for them. When they ask me why, I say "just because I love you."
Other ways I show my love through service include cooking healthy meals, helping with homework, driving to activities and sports, planning family holiday celebrations and providing a clean and safe home environment. I am not my family's housekeeper or cook, and I try not to enable, but these kinds of service show love.
3. Seek them out
Too often I find myself busy with my own to-do list, sending my children away with suggestions to "read a book" or "go outside to play." One way to show them my love is to seek them out and involve myself in their play. I can imagine how my daughter's eyes might light up as she suggest we bake something together, while my son would love to kick the soccer ball around or even learn to sew. Seek your children out and engage in whatever activity they are interested in. Your involvement will help them feel your love.
Adults don't have all the answers, nor do they need to solve their children's problems. Learning to zip my lips and listen has been something I've been working on. When my teenager vents about drama in the cafeteria at school, she doesn't want me to suggest solutions right away, she wants me to let her talk out loud so she can process and move on. When my son wants to analyze the superhero movie he just watched, he wants me to chime in with a few agreeable comments, but give him time to form his thoughts. Learning to listen, while remaining engaged, is a crucial parenting skill. This quiet form of support and security shows your children you care.
5. Be spontaneous
Sometimes the best way to show love is not to think about it too much. Love can be a tickle fight after dinner, an outing to get ice cream, a dance party in the living room, or staying up past bedtime to talk and be together. One of my current mantras is "say yes more than no." This idea allows me to be spontaneous and show my kids how much I care.
Loving children comes naturally to most parents, so don't underestimate its importance. Show children love in these 5 powerful ways and watch them thrive and succeed.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.