I have a confession. I’m “Downer Daddy” lately. I can only imagine what my kids might say about me during the day.
“Dad’s no fun.”
“We can’t do anything.”
“He’s a nag.”
Though hyperbole, you likely feel the same way I do. Just think about the phrases we use everyday. More often than not, I catch myself telling my kids:
Here are a few just in the past 24 hours:
Don’t hit your brother.
Don’t poke your sister in the face.
Don’t lick the blocks.
Don’t pick your nose.
Don’t eat your boogies.
Don’t put your carrot between your toes.
Don’t talk so loudly.
Don’t spit out your food.
Don’t stand on the chair.
Don’t spray me with the hose.
Don’t lick your fingers.
I could go on. As parents, we certainly have no trouble using the words: no, stop, and don’t on a daily basis.
I’m not saying that our kids don’t need boundaries. Nevertheless, put yourself in their shoes for a moment. If all you heard everyday from your boss or spouse were words of what you shouldn’t be doing, you’d feel pretty beaten up too.
Since we default so often to telling our kids what they’re not doing right, here are three words we should use everyday to help them understand how crazy we are about them, in spite of their behavior.
My dad went to be Jesus this past November. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard grown men and women tell me since then how lucky I was to have a dad who told me everyday that he loved me. The heart cry for so many adult children today is that they just wish their mom or dad would have told them, “I love you.”
The only other way you can go wrong in telling your child “I love you,” is if you blatantly don’t follow it up by your actions. Think Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar.
Though none of us will ever love our children as much as we wish we could this side of heaven, our kids need to hear “I love you” everyday.
Many believe the problem with parenting today is overpraising parents who raise kids to believe they’re special. Like anything, this is true for a segment of parents. In its extreme, we may tell our kids how proud we are of their performance when, in reality, it was flat out awful. In this case, refer back to Liar Liar.
Yet, not all parents coddle their children. And even for those who do, telling our kids, “I’m proud of you,” is not coddling them. Our children need to hear everyday how proud we are of them.
Therefore, to best use the word “proud” with your kids, be specific about what you’re proud of that day. When we tuck our kids in bed at night we’ll say things like:
“I’m proud of you today for giving half of your chocolate treat to your sister, even though you didn’t have to.”
“I’m proud of you today for being brave enough to go into your classroom all by yourself.”
Every day I tell our kids how much I love being their Daddy. Christi, as their Mummy, does the same.
The word being is a great word for our kids to hear because it shows our unconditional love for them just for who they are. Being is not tied to anything they do—or don’t do.
In addition, there are a number of other ways this can be said.
“I love playing trains with you.”
“My favorite part of the day was playing dollhouse with you.”
“I loved being with you at the game today.”
“I can’t wait to go swimming with you this weekend.”
In other words, what our kids hear is: “I love being with you.”
I can picture the love of Jesus in Mark 10:16 as he took the little children in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. He blessed them not because of anything they had done or not done, but because of what he was about to do on the cross.
Tonight, rest in knowing that you too don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. And like a child, be with your kids.