By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing Writer, B&R
As a teacher of young children, I often observed how my students adapted to change and how they were ready for kindergarten. I recall one family who lived in an expensive house and drove costly automobiles.
Mom and dad were so involved in careers that little time was left for the kids. Across town, another family had trouble paying monthly bills and providing the necessities of life. But these children were happy, they made friends easily and knew their parents were there for them. It was obvious which children felt loved.
Childhood is a time of learning. Whether a child feels loved, may not only cover the period of growing up, but extends to the adult life that follows.
The bond between a parent and child is strong. Children form secure attachment during infancy and childhood. One of the single most important factors in raising well adjusted children is a secure attachment to mom and dad. In order to keep this attachment strong and growing, verbalize your thoughts. Say “I love you” often.
We’ve heard the adage, “actions speak louder than words.” This is true if the words spoken are without regard for the action that follows. An example would be for a parent listening to a child’s prayers at bedtime, to be tucked in, and then be scolded for not finishing his chores. For a child to be scolded before bedtime does not speak “love.” The nights are too long for a child to endure this action.
Some ways parents can send a message of “I love you” include: ask your child who loves you in your life? How do you know this person loves you? Then as a parent, you may need to make some adjustment in your parenting skills.
The Bible is a guide for how to love our children. In I Corinthians 13:4-5, these words can apply to parenting as well as others. “Love is patient, love is kind. … It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.”
To young children, their image of their Heavenly Father’s love may stem from how their earthly parents loved them. Our Heavenly Father loves us unconditionally. We may disappoint Him, but nothing can separate us from the love of God. Let us ask ourselves, how do our children see us? Do they see us as forgiving parents? One that disciplines when needed, but always with a loving heart? Or one that is harsh, selfish, and self-seeking?
The love messages we send our children have an impact on their childhood now, and for years to come.
Words that say “I love you” are powerful. Make these statements part of your daily interaction with your children. Thank you. Let me help you. You’re doing great! I knew you could! I’m proud of you! Great work! You look good today! I like what you chose to wear today! Let’s play a game! I’ll watch you. Thank you for helping me. Good job! B&R — Tomlin, of Jackson, writes for the Christian magazine and newspaper markets and teaching writing workshops.