Recently, the folks at Stonyfield invited me to reflect upon these questions, inspired by an article on Babble, titled “The One Question You Should Ask Your Child Tonight.” Do you know how your children would answer that question? I’ll confess that hadn’t given it much thought.
Like any parent, I’ve always hoped that my children will grow up to be healthy, confident people who know they are loved and know how to love. No small task, right? It’s one of those HUGE parenting responsibilities that if you spend too much time thinking about your head might explode. (Okay, maybe not explode, but at least hurt a bit from all of the anxiety caused by being a parent!) We work on the small stuff (tie your shoes) to the VERY BIG parts of life (respect, listen, be kind, learn, and on and on). Those activities are all based in love – the big love we have our children – but do our kids know that? Do they understand that in our daily actions we’re modeling the love we have for them – and hope they internalize that love for the future?
I decided to ask my kids, R and G, what they thought.
I started with G, my six-year-old daughter.
“Honey, you know Mommy and Daddy love you a lot, right?” I asked one morning. We were all still in our pajamas, a stay-at-home day looming ahead of us as we recovered from the holiday buzz.
“Yes,” she replied quickly.
“How do you know we love you? How do you know it’s true?”
G thought about it for a moment. “You take care of me,” she replied. “You tuck me in good night and give me kisses and hugs!”
She gave me a hug and then continued: “When I get in trouble, you say you will always love me.”
I had to smile at this one. My husband and I have worked to make sure our children understand that we love them always – especially when they make a choice we don’t agree with – a priority. Hearing G tell me it’s one of the ways she knows we love her made me feel that perhaps she listens to me after all (though not in the morning when we’re trying to get out the door in time for the start of school; it’s not clear she listens then).
My eight-year-old son, R, was next. After I asked him how he knew we loved him, he tried to get out of answering. (Honestly!) With a bit of persuasion, he had an answer designed for me specifically: “When I get in your bed to snuggle, you snuggle me.” We were in the middle of vacation when morning snuggles were our natural alarm clocks, and his snuggles were, by far, my favorite part of our time away from work and school.
“You give me lots of hugs,” he added. “And you play with me.”
Finally, because my son is, at times, a bit cheeky, he closed with, “At Christmas, when there is a present you know I want, you give it to me.” He looked up and saw I wasn’t smiling. “Sometimes,” he finished, emphasizing the word in a such a way that he understood presents weren’t a given. Then, he ran off to find his sister.
I wasn’t so keen on the Christmas present reference, but it made sense, as it was the week after the holiday, and R was still enthralled with his Star War Perplexus, the toy he wanted above all others. That it had been under the tree on the morning of December 25 blew his mind. (I decided to take his comment as kudos for my excellent gift selection.)
In the end, I was thrilled with what my kids had to say. They know they are loved because we make time for them, because we’re affectionate and warm, and because we’re there for them – no matter what.
How would your kids answer these questions? Ask them and find out.
Disclosure: I completed this post as a member of Stonyfield’s Yo-Getter program. All opinions are mine are always my own.