Often in the office, when speaking or in a Facebook group, I find myself answering common parenting questions from a counselor’s perspective. This year I’m beginning with a simple series of commonly asked parenting questions and answers.
My child will sometimes say to me “I don’t feel like you love me.” I try and reassure them but am wondering how to help them understand my love for them.
Michelle responds with 6 Ways to Love Your Child
Feeling unloved is part of the human experience. Often a child will express feelings like these when they have experienced social rejection, are being disciplined or if a parent has been unusually distracted or busy. Below are some practical ways to reassure your child of your love often.
1) Tell them. Not only when you are proud and they have accomplished something but also after they have admitted failure or after being disciplined. Especially during moments of correction, a parent’s judgemnt can feel like rejection removal of love. It’s important if they are avoiding eye contanct when you tell them you love them “no matter what” to have them look at you. They may resist but let them know you want them to see your face and receive you love (them seeing a smiling face is also helpful). Writing notes is another way to communicate your love for your child. You can draw a picture while they are doing homework and write an affirmation on it, send them a note at lunch, write on the mirror where they get ready with a dry erase or if they are older, send them a text. Christian parents can also write our prayers of thanksgiving for their children or pray them aloud over them.
2) Show them by listening to them with your eyes. In a world of short attention spans and interruptions at our fingertips, giving them your undivided attention and listening to them share about their day or something they have done is incredibly powerful. Reflecting what you’ve heard them say or asking a follow up question or if there is anything else they’d like to share communicates their importance in your world.
3) Give them hugs and physical affection just because and especially as you greet them or leave them. As children age and themselves are otherwise engaged, it’s easy to let go of this practice we did so well when they were preschoolers. Even if they shrug you away, insist on some physical touch because it’s good for our health. I practice a lot of this at beditime during private moments when their “I’m too old for that” defenses are down.
4) Affirm their character and efforts not just their accomplishments. I do this by telling them “I like watching you…” It could be smile, play with a friend, help me, eat your cereal, read, etc. Choose everyday interactions and behaviors and tell them how much you enjoy them. For Christian parents, point out how you see the fruits of God’s Spirit in their lives and how His love shines through them. God smiles on His children and it’s good to teach and remind them that He smiling on them (even when playing Minecraft),
5) Share with them what you loved about them in the past. My children love hearing about what sweet little babies they were, funny things they did in preschool and my favorite moments or memories of them I treasure in my heart. They also delight in silly things they said. My daughter did something really unusual when I held her for the first time. She loves remembering that moment fro my perspective and laughs even though the story has been told dozens of times. For Christian parents, it’s great to share how God created them so special and how grateful you are that He gave them to you.
6) Project future success and confidence in them. Recognize their postivie personality traits and unique talents and how you see their future as one full of opportunity and wise choices. We all need a little help with personal vision and as a parent, you can empower them to dream and reinforce all that could be. For Christian parents, you can talk about the plans for a hope and a future that God has for them and how you can see Him working in and through them as they age. Gary Smalley and John Trent talk extensively about this concept in their book: The Blessing.
How about you? Many families have creative or unique ways they demonstrate love. I’d love to read ways you demonstrate love to your child in the comments below.
66 Ways God Loves You Giveaway (GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED)
One of the most powerful tools for empowering our chidlren to walk in love and approach life from a loved position is living it and experiencing love that comes from a grace we cannont earn ourselves. As someone who is recovering from shoulder surgery and has felt pretty useless, I too find myself in need of being reminded of how much God loves me as a human being not doing. I experienced these reminders recently through my children who have come and just hugged me and said encouraging words to me like “I’m glad you’re feeling better Mommy.” I’ve recently experienced reminders of the depth of His love for me through Christian worship and teachers both in person and online. I also love books that remind me of God’s love as well. During my recovery, I read 66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild and am sharing a copy of this book with one of my readers this week. I love this book because it covers all 66 books of the Bible and teaches you a way God showed his love for us in each book. (For those wanting to read through the Bible in a year but tend to have a short attention span, this could be a great starting place). Two of my favorites were:
In Nehemiah God Gives Me Tools to Rebuild All That is Broken and
In Zephaniah the Mighty God Sings Over Me with Great Joy
Comment on my Facebook post or below for a chance to win. If you comment below, you can share a way you experience God’s love or show love to your child.
Also, if you are local to the DFW area, Jennifer as well as Lysa Terkeurst will be speaking at The Fresh Ground Faith Conference in Allen, TX on Feb. 3rd from 7-9:30 and 4th from 9-12:30 . Follow the link below for more details and to register. #FreshGroundFaith #LysaTerkeurst #JenniferRothschild #