All you need is love
– The Beatles

When my nephew became a father, I told him that I think we bring our children to life to learn to love ourselves.

The birth of our first child is always the greatest opportunity to live our life again – a second childhood, only this time we’re taller, more coordinated and a bit wiser. I remember looking at my newborn daughter with my heart full of feelings I’d never had and loving her with every cell of my body. She did nothing. She was tiny and her eyes were closed most of the time. She just had to be there for me to have that feeling. I remember Gal holding her the first time and saying, “I don’t know you, but I already love you so much”. It’s funny how babies don’t need to do anything to be loved. They just need to be.

I wonder when this rule fades or when we, parents, forget it. I remember in those moments I imagined my mum and dad looking at me like that and I knew, with 100% certainty, that love is born with the birth of your child and that I was loved, very much loved.

The perception of love, you see, changes when you become a parent. For me, it was a great realisation mixed with sadness. It was a great feeling knowing how much my parents loved me and it was sad that I only realised it when I became a mother. I couldn’t stop thinking of all the previous years, when I needed that feeling during my schooling years – my fights, challenges, obstacles, my fears, failures and disappointments. Realising my parents loved me when I was an adult was not enough to change the past. It’s as if their “love account” was full but I didn’t have the “access card” or they didn’t provide a “withdrawal facility”. In other words, I wasn’t able to see it or they couldn’t express it. Maybe because they didn’t have the skills to withdraw from their parents’ love…

Can you see the cycle? Love was there all around, but no one knew how to pass it on.

Do your children know how much you love them?

Do you ever say, “If they only knew how much I love them”? Especially in times of conflict, many parents feel like their kids just don’t know, even though they love them dearly. The difference between parents’ and children’s definitions of love is natural. People form their definition of love thanks to their life experience and closest life agents – parents, family, friends and teachers. There’s a 20-year of cultural, generational and experience gap between parents and children and the question is actually who is responsible? Do we need to give or do they need to receive?

Love is a give-and-receive relationship. Assuming the love account is full, the giving and the receiving must match. Yes, loving somebody else is not enough if they don’t feel it. Frustrating as it is, knowing how to receive love is not genetic and it is also our responsibility to teach
So when you ask yourself “if they only knew?” think of the answer. How would their life be if they only knew? Just imagine them knowing you love them throughout their life, their challenges, their failures and fears.

I remember asking myself this question when my son was seven. I imagined him at the age of 16, going through the challenges of adolescence, and looked for an idea to establish a withdraw facility to my full love account and wrote him a love story waiting for him when he’s ready.

Tell them how much you love them!

I love you
I love you
I love you

Expressing love is paramount in our relationship with our children. Saying “I love you” is great. However, there are many ways to show them how full their "love account" is. Remember, if you don’t tell your child how much you love them every day, you’ve wasted a day. Here are some ideas you can use:

I love you #1

Some of the first ideas were born with the birth of my "happy thought" - my daughter Eden. I started a love album with photos and love letters from me to her. From time to time, I see her going over them and reading, accessing my love.

I love you #2

I remember wanting to take a photo of every second of her life and Gal telling the kids “can you see my love in the photo? Dedicating an album to show your love is an asset to children. Make them an album.

I love you #3

Over the years, we came up with love songs, our own family love songs that we sing from time to time and every night before bedtime. Get creative or find a song you love expressing your feelings and sing it to them.

I love you #4

Lunch boxes are a great container of love. Put sticky notes full of love: hearts, kiss, encouraging words like “good luck on your test” or just plain, “I love you”

I love you #5

Dinner times are great opportunities to show love to each other. Play “what do you love about me?” games where every person needs to say two things he loves about the other family member. You start (be a role model).

I love you #6

Later in years, when the kids learned to touch type we started writing love emails to each other. Sometimes we sit next to each other, with different computers and write love to each other, funny, but written words you can keep for later.

I love you #7

A baking pan shaped like a heart can make kids really happy. It’s the thought that counts anyway. It’s easy to express your love by baking sweet, chocolaty, heart-shaped cakes for your kids.

I love you #8

Dedicate one evening a week to “my favourite food night”. This night is dedicated to the kid’s favourite food. If you have three kids, everyone gets to choose the meal once every 5 weeks (mum and dad get to choose too).

I love you #9

Touch is very important and is one of the best ways to communicate love. Remember: everyone needs 12 hugs a day, so make sure to give them all the hugs they need for a great feeling every day before bedtime.

I love you #10

Ask your children, “What can I do to make you feel loved?” You’ll be surprised to hear what children have in mind. It is also wise to find out the value of every expression of love. Different kids like different things. You may be putting in a lot of effort to show love in one way when your child prefers other ways.

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return
– from Nature Boy by Nat King Cole

Love is a precious feeling that can heal wounds and help cross rivers and mountains. To fill your child’s love tank, remember to tell him/her every day of your life "I love you".

© Ronit Baras, Be Happy in LIFE - life coaching.

Author's Bio: 

© Ronit Baras, Be Happy in LIFE - life coaching.

Ronit Baras is a life coach, educator, author, journalist, justice of peace and public speaker living in Brisbane, Australia, specializing in relationships and families and an expert on motivation for kids.