Stop telling your kids you love them.

I know. I know I’m going to get some pushback on this, but hear me out.
The words, “I love you” are some of the most flippantly, overused words in the American culture, and perhaps (even) around the world. I realized long ago that I too, have been guilty of saying these three words religiously to my wife and twin daughters. One day, I decided to stop saying the words in the form of a statement and started saying, “I love you, tell me why I love you,” to my twin daughters.
Initially, they were dumbfounded:
“What do you mean? Hello! You’re my Dad. You have to love me!” one of them replied.
In that answer, my idea about this was confirmed. As human beings, one of the ways we receive validation from others is by a coined statement of affection thrown at us repetitively:
– You’re awesome.
– You’re beautiful.
– You’re handsome.
– Great job.
– You’re amazing.
– I love you.
Certainly, we all need validation, and nothing trumps the internal value we receive by the validation given to us by our parents. Conversely, nothing does more damage to children than the lack of validation they don’t receive from their parents. However, if I continuously affirm my love for my daughters without them understanding “why,” they will grow up thinking “love” is an absolute certainty in every relationship they have, and we all know that the latter is nothing more than a fairytale.
Science and the evolution of what we know from child psychology has taught us, if children hear harsh criticism inside of their home from parents and/or parental figures, they will not question the criticism because they see the adult as the supreme authority, “…how could they be wrong?”
Saying, “I love you…tell me why I love you” forces my daughters to look within. It forces them to do immediate self-
introspection, and they have to come up with the “why.” In doing so, the answers I get back are always revealing:
“…you love me because I’m smart.”
“…you love me because I’m a strong, powerful, woman.”
“…you love me because I’m a go-getter.”
“…you love me because…I’m me.”
As my daughters listen to their own responses, they are affirming their love for themselves.
By teaching them this awareness of how affirmations – words – are empowering them, they are building their Wonder Woman capes.
When the world attempts to beat them down – and it will – and it’s already tried to – it will be unsuccessful,
because they will have learned from years of validating themselves, that they are enough.

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