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Article #0701

Articles from Mac Bledsoe's Parenting With Dignity program.

You can fake like you care, but you can't fake being there

By Mac Bledsoe

In the lives of our kids it is often easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and forget to "show up" in our kid's lives. It is common, in the hurry of the day to speak much more cheerfully to the person serving coffee at the Quick-Stop on the way to work than to those in our family that we love. With summer upon us and a busier schedule for all it never hurts to stop and develop a plan for SOWING THAT WE CARE, and not just assuming that others know it.

Here is a list of ways that we can show our love for our children: (and remember that spouses can benefit from the same loving actions!)

  1. Notice them... get caught staring at them-even throw in a wink.
  2. Answer their questions with full attention at eye level.
  3. Create traditions and fight for them.
  4. Laugh at their jokes.
  5. Include them in your jokes. (If that makes you uncomfortable, Maybe you ought to change the jokes you tell.)
  6. Smile a lot
  7. Acknowledge them with a heartfelt "Good morning!" and a "Hi!" when you see them.
  8. Discuss their dreams (nightmares included.)
  9. Be relaxed in their presence. Just sit with them.
  10. Say their names.
  11. Contribute to their collections.
  12. Hide surprises for them to find.
  13. Kneel, squat, sit so that you are at their eye level.
  14. Go and find them at unexpected times.
  15. Play outside together.
  16. Surprise them.
  17. Remember their birthdays and other significant days in their lives. ("This was the day that you took your first step, trip to the doctor, etc.)
  18. Ask them about themselves.
  19. When they ask your advice give them options.
  20. Listen to the answers.
  21. Stay with them when they are afraid.
  22. Notice when they are absent.
  23. Follow them when they lead.
  24. Play with them... Adults can start the water balloon fight!
  25. Expect their best... and accept that it is not perfection.
  26. Be available.
  27. Do what they like to do.
  28. Share their excitement.
  29. Be honest.
  30. Be sincere.
  31. Include them in conversations.
  32. Brag about them when they don't think you know they are listening.
  33. Call them from work.
  34. Eat meals together.
  35. Plan discussion topics for dinner and announce them ahead of time.
  36. Tell them what your expectations are for their behavior.
  37. Practice the behaviors with them before they are in the situation.
  38. Introduce them to adults and tell the adult something of significance about them.
  39. Help to see mistakes as learning opportunities and not failures.
  40. Tape record messages to them.
  41. Tape record them.
  42. Video tape them just being themselves... like during one of those dinner conversations.
  43. Write them letters and send them in the mail.
  44. Go places together... take them along on errands.
  45. Build something together.
  46. Give them jobs at home that require thought and planning.
  47. Welcome their suggestions and use them.
  48. Make decisions together.
  49. When you make decisions for them include them in your thought processes.
  50. Help them to take stands on moral and ethical issues and then stand with them.
  51. Hug them.
  52. Set boundaries but help them to understand the reasons for them.
  53. Believe what they say.
  54. Tackle new tasks together.
  55. Cheer for their accomplishments.
  56. Encourage them to help others and recognize them when they do.
  57. Create a safe environment for them.
  58. Share secrets.
  59. Laugh
  60. Stop and enjoy time together. Even a minute at the bathroom sink.
  61. Be consistent but flexible.
  62. Praise loudly, criticize softly.
  63. Let them act their age.
  64. Tell them about yourself.
  65. Tell them what you believe and why you believe it.
  66. Help them to become an expert at something.
  67. Laugh.
  68. Ask their opinion about things.
  69. Show that you are excited to see them.
  70. Let them tell you how they feel.
  71. Display their artwork around the house... nicely framed.
  72. Thank them!
  73. Smile at them constantly.
  74. Keep promises... even small ones. In there eyes they are all the same size.
  75. Laugh
  76. Find a common interest.
  77. Let them pick the music and listen to it with them.
  78. Apologize when you've done something wrong.
  79. Hold hands.
  80. Take a walk.
  81. Read aloud together.
  82. Read moral literature and help them understand it.
  83. Use your ears more than your mouth.
  84. Show up at events.
  85. Learn from them and let them know what you learned.
  86. Tell them how terrific they are.
  87. Always suggest a better behavior when they have chosen an inappropriate one.
  88. Laugh.
  89. Be nice.
  90. Look them in the eye when you talk to them.
  91. Give them space when they need it.
  92. Use the car as interaction time.
  93. Tell them how much you like being with them.
  94. Develop a "secret word" for your family.
  95. Meet their friends.
  96. Meet their friends parents.
  97. Admit it when you make a mistake.
  98. Be honest
  99. Give them a private nickname and don't use it in front of others. (let them do the same with you.)
  100. Above all laugh, Laugh, LAUGH, and laugh some more.

Print this list and pick one each day to use.

You can plan to show your love for your kids. Make a list of your own. Find lists elsewhere of ways of showing love and care. We found many of these in YMCA handouts, church bulletins, childcare brochures, and other places.

Remember that you can fake like you care but you can't fake being there. The common element to each item on the above list is time.

Kids spell love "t-i-m-e!"

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