Happy (Almost) Valentines Day
I know, I know the headline probably got your heart racing. But it wasn’t click bait, I promise! We are indeed going to talk this morning about your deepest, truest, most incredible love ever: your kids.
Today marks two whole months since my baby girl was born and I’m resisting the urge to flood this entire post with pictures of her.
Yup, new mom here…and yes, all the stereotypes apply: I do think she’s perfect and I do drive my friends crazy when I turn every phone call or zoom hangout into a chance to talk about her or show her off. I don’t care one little bit that my world revolves around her.
And your world revolves around them. That’s precisely why you subscribed to this newsletter, and opened this email today (p.s. thank you!) Your biggest love is your child and I know you would do anything to make them happy, feel special, and feel loved. So this Valentine’s day, let’s ignore the urge to buy overpriced cards and flowers and chocolates (ok, maybe buy the chocolates…but hide them in your room and eat them all yourself – you deserve love too!) and instead let’s get back to basics: letting your loved one’s know how much they matter to you, starting with your kids.
Kids, more than anyone, need to know how much you care. Tweens and teens especially need to understand how much you love them because, unlike anyone else in your life, they will question that love, and they will test it. (Curious about why? Make sure you watch our Inner Lives series).
So today let’s make the case for expressing love to them in a way that could make even the coolest teen melt.
Life is tough for teens.
While things may seem charmed compared to how you may have grown up, research consistently shows that tweens and teens struggle immensely compared to adults.
This is not necessarily because life is harder for them – but because they don’t yet have the cognitive and emotional development to handle and navigate the hardships life throws at them.
I think we can all think back to a time when we were teens and we wondered if we were alone in the universe, wondered whether we were good enough. Many of us, even though we understood our parents loved us dearly, felt constantly at odds with them. For a teenager, that feeling of always bickering, of always bumping up against the rules, of always feeling misunderstood, of always being told what to do or that we were never doing things right, can feel a lot like our parents don’t care for us, don’t understand us, don’t like us even.
To add to this, today’s tweens and teens are living through a pandemic that has upended many of the things that have helped them feel stable, accepted, and like they belong: their friends, their social life, their ability to go out into the world and explore and express who they are as they develop their identity and independence.
The work from home and online school mandates also means tweens and teens and parents are around each other a lot more, which can mean more boundaries and buttons being pushed and more fights and hurt feelings as a result.
It’s a stressful time for everyone. This leads to a crisis where some teens end up believing they are loved only to the extent that “parents have to love their kids”…but they don’t feel loved inside.
Now more than ever our tweens and teens need to know they are loved.
They need to know they are loved more than they need to know how to do their math homework.
They need to know they are loved more than they need to know how to write the perfect essay.
They need to know they are loved more than they need to know that they should unload the dishwasher as soon as you ask.
They need to know they are loved more than they need to know that they’ve gone over their screen time limit for the third time this week and that means consequences.
They need to know they are loved more than they need to know their attitude is upsetting.
They need to know they are loved more than they need to know that back in your day things were tough too.
Teens need to know they are loved because teens are facing identity crises right now. Teens are struggling with their mental and emotional wellbeing at unprecedented rates. Teens need to know they are loved. They need to know.
Because they don’t always know.
We assume the deep feelings we have for our children are obvious and that they feel the depth of our feelings. After all, how could you love something so much, and that person not feel the strength of those emotions?? We assume our feelings are obvious because they feel so obvious to us.
But teens need reassurance. Even when they logically know you love them, they don’t necessarily feel that you love them.
No matter how incredible their parents, teens are still growing and questioning who they are and where they fit in, which means they question if they are loved just as they are. They need to feel loved.
What will you do this week to ensure your teen know you love them? What will you do to ensure your teen feels how much you love them?
Above anything else, this week let’s focus on giving love and affection. The rest of the parenting stuff can wait. I guarantee you that you will never regret taking a week off trying to parent your kid, and instead commit one week to simply ensuring they feel completely adored and accepted.
Try it just this week. You may just want to try it forever.