All you need is love
So here’s the thing.
I’m a hugger. I love love. I say “I love you” to all of my kids. Often. Cuz, you know, I love them.
Most of my friends who have kids do the same. They’re open and honest with their feelings about their children and are not ashamed to express their emotions to their kids.
No, not to me and my cohorts. For most of us, saying “I love you” to our children is the norm, not the exception. We love our kids. Why not just say it?
This may seem so obvious, or be a non-issue for many of us, but for a whole generation…no – multiple generations – the thought of such overt showcasing of feelings leaves said generation feeling a tad uncomfortable.
Such was the case with my parents and their many friends and cohorts. Similarly this was apparently the norm with many of my friends and their family members as well. Whether we’re referring to a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle – the net result is the same: The words “I love you” are or were rarely, if ever, uttered.
I know that in my case, there were cultural reasons as to the reasons behind this. When I was growing up, I didn’t hear it from my parents, but I knew by their actions that they loved me dearly. In their time and culture, however, you didn’t say it – you showed it by your actions. My parents are from the Caribbean, and while it may perhaps be different now, in West Indian culture it certainly was not the norm to openly express feelings of love to one’s children, at least not when I was growing up, and especially not when my parents were children themselves. One can’t blame them for passing parenting styles that they themselves lived by. How things have changed.
In today’s world, I’m surrounded by family and friends who don’t hesitate to tell their kids how much they love them. It’s the norm, not the exception.
A very unscientific poll taken via my Facebook page asked the simple question:
“Do you tell your kids you love them and if so, how often?”
The answers, while varied in tone, were unanimous in their content:
The desire to convey their feelings of love and adoration for their children is manifested in my friends’ use of the phrase “I love you” that, by all accounts, is said often.
What, however, has caused this shift in behaviour from even as recently as 30 to 40 years ago?
It could be a number of things.
A Trend Towards Open and Honest Parenting
Perhaps it’s the growing level of comfort that has occurred among parents in the past few decades. Parenting, on a whole, has taken a turn, where the notion of children being “seen and not heard” is viewed as a remnant of the past. How this manifests itself in today’s world is that there is very often an open, honest and interactive discourse between parent and child that ultimately leads to closer parent-child relationships on the whole. It’s much easier for a parent to convey their feelings of love to their child when they’ve had an ongoing and open dialogue as part of their regular interaction.
Bringing Down That Wall
It’s no longer cool to have a wall up between parent and child as it once used to be. While that was the norm, not the exception in the not too distant past, it’s now generally frowned upon, regardless of parenting style. In this day and age of emotion, feelings and “using your words,” is it any wonder that society’s shift has contributed to a more open, honest and loving relationship between parents and their children? We’ve come a long way, Baby, and our babies – and kids – are better for it.
More Invested Parenting
Parenting classes, while they may seem extreme, indicate our desire to connect more closely with our kids. Most of us may not get up and attend a seminar (or two) on how to raise our children, but I think it’s safe to say that we, as a whole, are continually striving to be the best parents that we can. Whether doing so is via reading the latest book on the subject, by following the advice of a parenting guru, or by good old trial and error, this shift towards upping our game as a mom or dad is likely contributing to our collective utterances of those three little words.
So back to that informal Facebook survey. Here are some of the voices and interesting responses that I received in response to my question “Do you tell your kids you love them and if so, how often?”
(**Please click the link at the end of this post to answer the survey question: Do you tell your kids you love them?**)
“I say it all the time. And my kids say it back. Also frequently tell my 94 year old mom that I love her, because I know that each time might be my last chance to say it.”
Mara Rubinoff-Shapiro, co-founder of BrazenWoman says:
“I say it 50 times a day and they say it back. It’s just natural for us. My dad said it and my mom didn’t, and it made me feel secure knowing not how much he loved me but that he was so open about it”
Jackie Morgan MacDougall, founder and co-host of Broadscast says:
“I say it every day, multiple times. I didn’t hear it much. It was a different time and there were a lot of kids. I may say it too much but my kids will just have to deal with that.”
“I say it often. And I’ve been sure to say it when they’ve done something stupid. The message I hope they get is that they need to learn from their mistakes and make better choices, but even when they aren’t, my love is unwavering.”
Adam Dolgin, founder of the popular Parenting website and Facebook group Fodder 4 Fathers, says
“My mom and my grandmother always would say I love you. My wife and I tell our kids we love them at least 10 times a day.”
Clare Kumar, professional organizer at Streamlife says
“I do. And tell them I’m proud of them. I think I do it more often than my parents did. Not sure why. Could be cultural, and the fact that their parents probably did not.”
Robert Hoshowsky, Writer and True Crime author :
“Maybe I’m not warm and fuzzy, but my parents didn’t say ‘I love you‘ a lot when we were growing up…they led us know how much they loved us with every single action.”
Erin Avramidis of the website Speech and Co says:
“Yes all the time! Love when the kids say it back too”
From the perspective of being an adult child and relating to their parents, blogger and influencer Casie Stewart has this to say:
And here are my four crazy kids! I love them all and tell them I love them all the time.
So parents: when you’re feeling reticent about saying those three little words, remember – As Sam Cooke once said: “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you…” Say it. you won’t regret it.