Duckling #2 was sitting at the table eating breakfast the other morning. She was quiet and I could tell she had something on her mind. Then, out of the blue, she asked me this question:
"Daddy, if there were 100 princesses in a row and me, who would you pick to be your daughter?"
I immediately said that I would choose her to be my little girl, which pleased Duckling #2 greatly. But it got me thinking - am I telling the Ducklings that I love them enough? Or, more specifically, am I telling them that I love them for who they are?
In clinical terms, "unconditional positive regard" means that clinicians are trained to accept their clients no matter what. This does not mean that clinicians need to accept everything their clients DO unconditionally, but that's a topic for another blog.
As parents, we don't choose our kids. We have who we have. We see our own qualities and characteristics (good and bad) reflected back in them. Our kids will have gifts and talents. They will also have crosses to bear.
Our kids may have strong personalities. They may be independent or clingy. They may be awkward or rambunctious. They may be thoughtful or impulsive. But do they know we'd choose them out of a lineup of all the other princes and princesses in the world?
A friend of mind once said it was up to the parents to help their children know that they are cherished. I love that. Parents aren't just called to help their kid feel accepted or appreciated, but truly cherished and valued as a pearl without price. Sometimes this is easy, we feel incredible pride in our children or share in their innocent joys. But sometimes showing that we cherish our kids may be tricky. How do you convey "cherished" to the child who just dumped yogurt down an AC vent or dropkicked the cat? In those moments we have to dig deep and find the positive things that we sincerely love about our kids. When we get in the habit of actively looking for things that are going well in our relationships with our kids, it becomes easier to see those positive elements. Not that we become naive to the challenges and struggles in our family, but if we make a commitment to look for the positive, we're less likely to overlook the dozens of small blessings that occur throughout the day.
This week, try to help your child feel cherished by sharing one thing you love about your child every night when you tuck them into bed.