First, consider what’s true.
Do I love my child because he gets good grades?
Do I love my child because she played well at the piano recital?
Is my love based on whether or not my kids did the dinner dishes?
No, of course not! I love it when these things happen. But I loved my children long before they could DO anything but breathe.
What about us as adults and parents? Is it true that my worth is dependent upon my accomplishments?
Is it true that my worth is dependent upon my accomplishments?
Is the value of my existence tied to university I attended? The title of the job I hold?
Is my devotion as a mother qualified by the number of Pinterest crafts I complete each holiday season?
Are my efforts as a parent measured by choices of my well behaved, scholarly, hard-working children?
Do they define my value? Talk about pressure!
Again, no! The truth is that our children loved us completely long before they understood any measures of success. Our worth and value is NOT dependent on the things we do. These are a few of my favorite pieces of truth.
I have great value just because I am here on this earth in all my imperfections.
Because I wake up in the morning and take in breath, I am worthy of love and affection.
I don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
I screw up a lot and am still enough.
Second, shift how you communicate love.
The above messages are truths we need to embrace for ourselves and communicate to our children. I think they’re the messages we want to send. For me, it’s what I feel in my heart.
But sometimes, I get caught up in the race to the top. When that happens, my truths are drown out by the external pressures to look good. I speed up, focus on the outcome versus the process, begin placing pressure that I can’t clearly identify. Before I even realize it, the only conversations happening are about behaviors, chores, and homework! Gross!
We all have those moments– some longer than others, but they don’t feel good for anyone. So whether they are spoken or written in a note, try out these expressions of love and acceptance.
Spending time with you is my favorite part of the day.
Seeing your face brings a smile to my face.
I love hearing your voice.
Mistakes are how we learn. You don’t have to be perfect.
I love you just the way you are right now.
Finally, connect with children for who they are.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of activities and school demands. Look for simple opportunities to engage with your child in a way that is meaningful to them. Think of these as a “no strings attached” moments. Meaning, our time together isn’t conditional on a clean bedroom, completed homework, brushed teeth, or anything else. It’s just a moment I give freely because I value who you are.
A few of my favorites:
“I have 10 minutes, how would you like to spend it with me?”
Watch them participate in an activity they love without any suggestions or corrections.
Ask what their favorite t.v. show is and watch an episode together.
Ask them to teach you how to play their latest video game.
Create a “Compliments Only” zone in the house.
When we connect with our children for who they are and not just the things they do, we remove a tremendous weight from their shoulders. Next time you want to connect with your kiddo, rather than ask about grades or accomplishments, speak the love you feel in your heart and experiment with these ideas.
My hope is that regardless of the different paths my children take, they will know without a doubt that they are enough and have a central place in my heart.