Show and tell them you love them
A mother will stroke her child continually and lovingly. And even when the baby does not understand what she is saying, the mother will whisper lovely and endearing words to them. Every being loves and needs that. I want to believe that a bit of us only survives because of that affectionate display.
You see my, father showed me, with no restraint, that he loved me. He spent time with me and in his actions was an unspoken love that oozed my way. If I were a garden, I would say, he misted my life. However, he was not around long enough for that mist to bear as much fruit as a downpour would. Now, do not start at me, I loved and appreciated my old man but I needed a downpour of his affection. I needed to see the lightening and hear the thunderings of what went on in his mind when he thought of his little girl.
See, spouses continually tell each other, “I love you”, not because one has forgotten that they are loved. It is simply to remind one another of the bond they hold dear. It is to affirm to one another that what they have going on is real.
I needed to hear that as well. Unfortunately, I did not hear, “You are beautiful”, “You are loved”, “You are special” and the like. However, as conservative as my parents were, the most common things I heard were, “You need to study hard”, “You need to do that or the other”. While that is part of life, it is the most I remember yet there is more to life than that.
No, it is not that my parents needed to carve some sort of love sign in my heart for me to feel their love, I needed to hear it. Yes, I know that their provision was a sign of love, but I needed to hear them say it. I needed them to stop for a minute and shower some praises my way. I do not know about you, but I know I needed it. Life can never be as grey as I sometimes felt it was.
No wonder, the first time someone told me of how beautiful I was, I melted, blushing. You see, no one had ever told me so it was music to my ears. I felt that finally someone was seeing me, appreciating me, valuing my presence.
So I say to my fellow parents, do not shower your child with praises just because they have excelled in class. Or because they have done one chore well. Shower them with praises because they are your children. It matters that they feel and know that they are loved. Let us normalise showing them affection, telling them that we love and are proud of them. It matters for their mental health and for their self-esteem. You then give them a scale upon which to base in the future. That nothing flimsy will sweep them off their feet.
Joan S. Blogger, journalist, parenting coach