“Daddy, do you love me?”

Wow!  As a parent, I go straight into panic mode when I hear those words.

“Of course!  Why do you ask?  I tell you all the time!”  The responses come thick and fast as I attempt to overcome any concerns my kids may have that they’re not loved.

As I consider the gravity of this question, I can’t help but be challenged to ensure that each of my children (and my wife for that matter) know without a shadow of doubt that they are loved.

Here are four ways to get me started:

Tell them.  I know that it’s obvious, but I need to consciously and deliberately make sure that I tell them each (not just tell them all, there’s a difference) that I love them unconditionally and always will.

This needs to be said multiple times a day, without exception.  It doesn’t matter how good they’ve been, how well they’ve done at school or what sort of mood I’m in.

Parents have a responsibility to tell their kids that they love them.

Spend time with them.  I have three kids, so this is an ever-increasing challenge as they grow older, but it’s important that they each have a lot of time spent with each parent.  This isn’t time spent doing what I enjoy doing, but spending time doing what they love.  Taking an interest in their hobbies validates them as people and is a genuine and meaningful expression of love.

Hug them.  You may be one of those distant parents who doesn’t like physical contact and hesitates to embrace your children as a result.

Get over it!

Kids need affection from their parents and you can never give them too many hugs, especially when they are young.  I know that my kids will grow up and probably become embarrassed by it, but at least they will feel safe in the knowledge that they are loved.

Protect your marriage.  I have a saying with my wife that if we’re OK, then they’re OK.  It’s simplistic, but so often it’s true.  I have a responsibility to publicly display affection with my wife, spend time with her, tell her I love her in front of the kids, buy her flowers, come home from work on time and create an environment where children feel secure that their parents aren’t going anywhere.

The impacts of an unhappy marriage and/or divorce on how kids feel about themselves and how they receive love is a big price to pay.  As such, I need to continue to invest in my relationship with Karen so that our almost 14 years of marriage continues to prosper.

To me, parenting is one of the most important roles that I have and if I get that right, I will look back on that achievement with great pride and satisfaction.  As such, I want to continue to find ways to become a better parent and hope that I can be an encouragement to others as we find a way to raise our kids.

One of the biggest traps that we can fall into is to assume that our kids know that we love them.  We need to deliberately tell them, spend time with them, hug them and provide a secure home environment for them.

My hope and prayer is that every time any of my kids ask that question, “Daddy, do you love me?”  That they instantly know the answer and feel secure in that knowledge.

That’s my hope for all parent/children relationships.

Are there any tips that you would like to share about how to express love to your children?

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