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Have I Told You I Like You Lately

If you are like me, you tell your children you love them all the time, and if you don’t I would encourage you to start as they need to hear this from you. But, they also need to hear that we like them too.

The love between a parent and a child is a natural, instinctive feeling. They love us no matter what and we should love them unconditionally as well. However, liking someone is often a more conditional feeling.

Outside our families, we make decisions to “like” the way people behave, interact, present themselves, listen, speak, dress, etc, or we can not-like the above qualities in a person and choose not to spend time with them. Family is different, we don’t choose them, they belong to us and remind us of all the things we like and don’t like about ourselves.

In our relationship with our children, the underlying love is always present, but we often spend time telling them what we don’t like. “I don like the way you just acted in the store; I don’t like the way you are yelling at your sister/brother; I don’t like it when you speak with food in your mouth; I don’t like it when your room is messy.” Even if we don’t specifically use the term “I don’t like”, we convey those feelings when we spend our days correcting behavior.  Unfortunately, correcting negative behavior is what a good parent does, it’s part of our job description. Afterall, we are trying to mold and shape caring, compassionate, responsible members of society.

So what can we do? I think we should spend some time telling our children what we like about them on a consistent basis. I tried this with my two children the other night at dinner. It went something like this…

Me – Do you both feel loved?
Kids – Yes, Mom. We know you love us. (eyes roll)
Me – Ok, well do you know that I like you as people?
Kids – Huh?
Me – Do you feel liked for who you are?
Kids – We don’t know, we guess so…
Me – Well, I want to tell you what I like about you both, because I really do enjoy you and like being with you both. 

Ella – Tell me first!
Jordan – No tell me first! 

Me – I’ll start with Jordan because he was born one minute earlier. Jordan, I like all your silly phrases and nicknames for people. I like your sense of humor even when I have to remind you to use appropriate words/phrases. I like that you always ask a lot of questions because you really want to know how things work. Yes, thats right, even when I sometimes get annoyed at all the questions, I secretly really like that you are so inquisitive. It’s a good quality to have. I like the way you interact with your friends, you are a true boys boy and its fun to watch you even when I yell at you to calm down and/or to stop running in the house. I like the way you run up and hug me so hard that I almost fall down even though I scold you for almost knocking me over.  I like that every night you ask me for an extra long cuddle even on the nights I complain its late and I’m tired.  I like how athletic you are. I like the way your hands feel in mine. I like hearing you call me by my first name when you think I’m not listening to you. I like your voice and listening to you sing when you have headphones on.  I like your laugh, your smile and I like the person you are growing to be. I hope from this you get what I am trying to convey… I not only love you with all my heart, I really, really like YOU.

Ella, it’s your turn. I like your sense of style even when I have to sometimes ask you to change. You have a unique way of putting together outfits and I admire your flare. I like your wittiness even when I scold you for being sassy. Your ability to think quickly on your feet and give a quick rebuttal is a quality that will be beneficial later in life. I like that you are very opinionated even when I don’t agree with your opinion. I like our bed time chats and your desire to interview me even when I’m tired and telling you its time to go to sleep. I like that every morning when I go to wake you up for school, you ask me to lay with you even if I feel rushed to get out the door in time, that extra minute laying next to you is worth it. I like that you are passionate about your feelings. I like your heart for others. I like the friends you choose to keep close. I like watching you interact with Papi and how much you look up to him.  I like to watch you dance. I like the young lady you are growing up to be. Just like I told you brother, I want you to know that I not only love you with all my heart, I really, really like YOU too! 

When I finished my little speel both kids were smiling from ear to ear and later that night, they asked me for more reasons. You see, even children that know they are loved, still long to be liked.

I hope I inspired you to try this with your children and I look forward to hearing all about your experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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