It is not always easy to love our kids especially if we have not been well loved ourselves. Many times we can feel like failures and as though we have not done enough for our kids.
A dear friend once told me that we can only love to the extent that we have been loved. This is so true, so often we can only love through past hurts and fears. These past hurts and fears ensure that we respond to everything out of a place of pain unless we have been able to come to a place of wholeness ourselves.
This is why we need to be so aware of how we duplicate ourselves It is so important, children watch and are aware of everything we do as parents and they will then parent in similar ways themselves.
Often loving our children is easier if we are looking after ourselves and our relationship. Ensuring we are well rested, have spent time with our partner and that we feel okay about ourselves goes a long way towards allowing us to give unconditional love to our offspring
So how do we love our kids?
Love to children often looks like time, A child feels loved when we spend quality time with them. This does not mean hours, it means some time spent everyday either playing or listening or being interested in your child's interest.
If this seems quite difficult, maybe you are a working parent or carer then try to break it down into chunks of time that can be incorporated into your daily routine:
Many children love to be read to and bedtime is a great time to do this. Snuggle down with your child or children with a good book and read out loud to them. Many older children enjoy this too though the books chosen will change.
Get your children involved in cooking the meal with you, enjoy chatting about the day as you work together. Listen to your child's likes and dislikes around food and incorporate these where possible into your menu's for the week. Get older children to choose a menu and cook for you.
As our children got older and we began to understand the importance of family times we would put a day or two aside each month to spend doing thing together. My husband would show the children how to make homemade bread and make a good curry. We would look at goals for our lives both individual and combined and perhaps make a collage of ideas.
We would often play board games as our children loved this and now that the older 3 are in their late teens and twenties they still enjoy coming home and playing a board game. A good family film is also still enjoyed in our family times.
Our kids also loved outdoor scavenger hunts and we often made up our own when we went for walks and outings to keep the children involved with the activity.
Listening is vital to your child, they need to know that as parents we are actively listening to them. This means we need to get down to their level and be looking at them and asking questions about what they have said if appropriate. You need to keep this real as children easily pick up if you are not hearing them
Vital to our children is that we also understand that if we love we bring parenting discipline.
In the Bible we can see that to chasten means to bring discipline and to nurture.
In fact we also read in Prov 3:11-12:
1 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
The more your child trusts in you and does not feel that love is conditional the more they will share with you. This is crucial as they start growing up into the confusing world of the teenager.
Unconditional love simply means that whatever our children do we still love them. This does not mean not disciplining but means that after we have bought discipline or correction we can move on and we continue loving our children throughout. Having good strategies to manage bad behaviour stops the situation from getting so emotionally charged that we lose our cool. A good set of consequences to behavior that as a family is agreed means that our children are getting consistent messages about the behaviors we want to see.
Positive affirmations go a long way to help your children to feel both valued and loved. Let them know when you are pleased with their behaviour. Notice when they have done their hair a different way. Celebrate small and large successes. Put notes in your childrens lunchboxes for them to find, send them letters, look at photographs of them together. Remember to tell them you love them a lot.
Hugs also go a long way in telling your kids you love them, Every human needs physical touch in the form of hugs and cuddles so don't withhold these from your children.
No one ever said that parenting would be easy, parenting is a journey full of highs and lows. I'll leave you with a thought, what kind of legacy are you leaving your children?