Every single day, I tell all of our children the same thing:
I love you all the love.
[As in, all the love that does, has ever, or will ever exist…that’s how much I love you.]
Maybe it’s just a media thing, but how many stories/movies/shows have you seen where the dads can’t mutter “I love you?”
And the fallback response is “they know how I feel.”
Do they, though?
Do kids know how you feel about them if you don’t explicitly tell them?
My hypothesis (driven by no actual science, but by life as a parent of three kids and as a son who heard his dad say he loved him all the time) is that there is no way they can know unless you constantly tell them.
Case in point: Two years ago, my daughter made me watch all three Madagascar movies…about 25 times each, not exaggerating. Now she does not remember them at all. I’ll repeat: she does not remember movies
Us parents, though, we remember what happened two years ago. I will never be able to get certain scenes from those movies out of my head.
As kids grow, they lose their earlier memories and the only reality they know is what is presented to them. By you.
And sometimes it may get cumbersome. Like this recent chat I had with Beanie:
Me: Beanie, I love you.
Beanie: DADDY! I know that already. You don’t need to tell me that EVERY DAY!
Me: Yes, I do need to tell you. What if you don’t know?
Beanie: How about this? I’ll tell you the days that I forget that you love me and you can tell me then.
Me: ……………………..I love you.
Here’s the thing, though: I don’t care. I don’t care how old they get. I don’t care if it embarrasses them in front of their friends. I don’t care if they want nothing to do with me that day.
All I care about is that they know – on each day, no matter what – that their dad loves them.