I love my kids.
No one had to write a book or make a podcast or do a teaching series to convince me to love them. It happened the first time I felt them kick and squirm as they were growing inside me. It happened the moment they were born, when I held them for the first time and memorized every detail of their bald little heads. I love their giggles, their growing sense of humor, their personalities and their interests. When I think about my kids, there is a love inside that I honestly don’t know how to explain.
Maybe that’s the problem.
If I’m really honest, there’s something inside me that wants them to know how much I love them. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I know how significant love is in the life of a child and I just hope they know, really know, how much they are loved—but they don’t. How could they? They’re kids. They might never understand or appreciate the way I love them.
That’s okay. A kid doesn’t have to understand or appreciate a parent’s love in order to be affected by it.
So, what if the best thing we can do for our kids is not to get them to understand how much we love them, but to prove to them that we love them enough.
What does enough mean?
Maybe, in their world, it’s as simple as SHOWING UP.
We can show up predictably.
Whatever your work schedule, or your activity schedule, or your school schedule, you can show up in predictable ways. It’s how you greet them in the morning, how you meet them at the end of the school day, how you end the day together and how you spend your weekend. It’s the small ways that you show up in their world, day after day, week after week, that communicate love.
We can show up mentally.
Okay – this won’t apply all the time. There are sometimes when our mental energy is somewhere else, that’s just life. But there are moments when we can show up mentally more than others. We can plan strategic moments to disconnect and focus on what they have to say. One of the best times to show up mentally might be riding in the car. Some research actually shows that conversations happen more easily when we don’t have direct eye-contact.
We can show up randomly.
These are the really fun moments. The surprises. A dad friend of mine recently showed up at the bus stop with water balloons (that’s showing up randomly.) But it doesn’t have to be that dramatic. It can be an unexpected note in the lunch box or a text in the middle of the day. It can be a non-traditional dinner night doing exactly what they want to do. Whatever it is, when you show up randomly, you have an opportunity to show your kid that you are thinking about them when they least expect it.
So, even if your kids never really appreciate the deep down love that you have for them, be encouraged! By showing up predictably over time, giving them our attention (when we can), and showing up in unpredictable ways, we can show our children that we love them enough. And not only that, we can help them understand they are lovable. That they have value. That they are worth it.
In what ways are you showing up in the life of your kids this week?
Follow the rest of the conversation on Playing For Keeps as Reggie, Kristen, and others talk about the 6 things every kid needs over time. You can start with the first part of the series about how Time Matters.
Kristen Ivy is the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange and co-author of Playing For Keeps and Creating a Lead Small Culture. She combines her degree in secondary education with a Master of Divinity and lives out the full Orange spectrum as the wife of XP3 Students Orange Specialist, Matt Ivy, and the mother of two First-Look (preschool) children, Sawyer and Hensley. You can find Kristen on Twitter, @Kristen_Ivy.