Smile at your children, smile at each other — it doesn’t matter who it is — and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other.
It’s not enough to love your kids. You have to tell them that you love them. They need your love poem tattooed on their hearts so they can take it with them wherever they go. The famous poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “I love you not for what you are but for what I am when I am with you.” That’s the essence of a family. Let your children know that their mere presence makes your life better every day and that they don’t have to do anything other than be themselves to make the world a better place. That is what makes your life and theirs meaningful. Don’t just say it; write it down for them. Words seem to carry more weight when they are on paper. Write love letters to your kids, send cards, and leave notes for them around the house.
Today, while searching through some desk drawers, I found a passage from a poem called “I’m So Proud of You,” by Ruthann Tholen, that we sent to our children on Valentine’s Day 1993. “When I held you as a child it was like taking up in my arms all of my hopes for the future,” the poem begins. “I wondered then what you would become, and you haven’t let me down.”
“My child, you are a person to be proud of. You are sensitive, but strong, with the courage to follow your own path, to know and do what is right for you. The love between us needs few words, but is the foundation for all we give by being there, by sharing time and effort, by our talks, and by our caring. I’m proud when you accomplish things, but even prouder of the way you live. Whether you win or lose, you do it with dignity and integrity and humanity, and I respect that. From your own efforts, there has grown a deep goodness in you. I can wish nothing more than that your life will hold a future of happiness.”
We signed each note, “I love you, and I’m very glad you are my child.”
I can assure you that poem is going out again. I know our children will be pleased to remember when they first received it, and that it will encourage them and underscore how much they are loved as they face their own challenges with their families.
While you’re spreading love around, be sure to tell all of your family members, your neighbors, and your kids’ teachers how highly you think of your children and how much you love them. Why? Because the word will get back to your kids, and they will know you weren’t saying it to them just to make them feel better. If you are telling it to everyone, they’ll believe that you must really mean it. And they will be right.
How to Make the Magic: Get a book of poetry and and some meaningful poems to read or send to your children. Share them with all of your kids, whether they’re still sitting in high chairs or facing them, feeding kids of their own. If you’re having trouble with one, give him or her a poem anyway. Do it today. Then go through your calendar and make a note to give them another one on each and every holiday. After all, no matter what conflicts arise, they will always be your children, and you still have the right to love them, and they deserve to be loved.
Reprinted from: Love, Magic & Mudpies: Raising Your Kids to Feel Loved, Be Kind, and Make a Difference by Bernie Siegel, MD © 2006 Bernie Siegel, MD. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098.