Resolving to Love our Children

I recently celebrated my fifteenth wedding anniversary. I’ve been thinking about love a lot lately. How do we know we are loved? What things do the people in our lives do for us that tell us most deeply that we are loved?

After I first got married, I encountered the idea that people have different languages for showing and receiving love, an idea made popular by the many books of Gary Chapman. Some people spend time together. Some need words of affirmation. Some give gifts. Some rely on physical closeness while others show love through acts of service.

As a newlywed, this idea helped me understand concrete ways to nurture my relationship with my spouse, and lately, I’ve been wondering about how these ideas impact my relationships with my children.

I tell my children everyday that I love them, but do they feel it? Do they feel loved when I tell them with words? When we wrestle? When we play games of Go, Fish? When I wash their laundry or take them to swimming practice? When I buy them something special?

If they feel loved in ways that I less naturally show, then they might feel less connected to me than I think, so I am making a commitment to learn the ways they show and receive love by asking these simple questions:

How do you know that I love you?

What things do I do that help you know I love you?

With older children, this can happen with conversations. For younger children, we can experiment to discover what kinds of interactions bring them the most joy.

For many of us with children, our days are filled to bursting with daily life: waking, meals, naptime, soccer practice, dance class, school drop off, laundry, grocery shopping, arranging childcare, doctor’s visits, class projects, birthday parties, and picture days.

We make choices about how to spend our free time. If I know how my children feel most loved, I can concentrate on engaging with them in their own language as much as I can. I want my children to experience life knowing that they have a place in their family and that they are loved. I can prioritize those things.

In 2017, with the calendar of unspent days stretching out in front of me, let’s learn about the ways in which our children feel loved. Happy New Year!

I Will Sit With You When You Are Sad.

We are winding our way through Yellowstone, and my oldest daughter, is hard at work with a pencil and paper.  She is flustered, and cries angrily.

“I canNOT do it!  I am TRYING to draw a BEAR!  It does not LOOK like a BEAR!!  I drew an elk that I am very proud of, but I cannot DRAW A BEAR!”

She is frustrated. Annoyed. She works the lines but they are unwieldy, her fine motor skills failing to interpret between her mind and the paper.

I want to say, (more…)

No Longer At Odds With Toddlers

IIMG_6117t snowed a few weeks ago in Lausanne; a beautiful dusting that covered everything with an inch of wet snow.

As I walked my son to preschool, I noticed something that made me smile.  The sidewalks had been cleared, and yet every stretch of snow remaining on the edges had tracks of footprints.  Made by child-sized feet.  I watched, smiling, as my son did what the toddler before him had done…march boldly in the fresh blankets of snow.

There was a wide swath of cleared pavement to choose from.  He didn’t need to walk in the snow.  Nor did the child (more…)

No More "Magic Words"

ThanksgivingAs a culture, we are obsessed with manners. In our product-oriented society where parents and care providers feel judged by the actions of children, we feel that we are doing a good job when our children are polite.

Why do we care so much? Why is it necessary for our children to use manners in the first place? Why do we care if our children say “please” and “thank you?” (more…)

Let's Expect Different

IMG_5299Yesterday, I was taking my son to preschool when a store employee gifted him a small stuffed-dog keychain.  He was beyond thrilled.  He spent the rest of the walk to preschool rolling it over and over in his hand, examining the twist tie holding it to an index card, and noting the tag sewn into the dog’s foot. He talked to me non-stop about his plans for the dog, how his (more…)

4 Strategies For Raising Children With Healthy Body Images

I looked through stacks of old photo albums before we moved and I discovered something.  I used to be skinnier.  Also, I was so cute!  What strikes me as I look through old photo albums is that I never felt cute or felt skinny at the time.  I was always dissatisfied and wished I could change any number of things about the way I looked.

If I could go back and tell the younger me one thing, I would give myself permission to feel joyful in my skin.  I wasted so much time (more…)