Everyone loves to show affection to a baby, but it’s less common as the child gets older. Saying “I love you” and giving hugs is what all parents do to their baby. It seems a very easy and natural thing to do. The unconditional love is shown even when they mess up; like when they spill something, fall and hurt themselves, break something, poop their pants etc. You name it! Nothing seems to deter the parent from showing love and affection to the little baby or toddler. Even total strangers want to express their affection for the little ones.
As the child grows, it seems that most parents start to feel awkward or uncomfortable showing that same level of affection; if not in private, then in a public. The child can seem to withdraw and not want or need as much affection, and so we lessen it. We also don’t want to embarrass the child, so we stop showing public displays of affection like hugs, kisses and saying “I love you.” I’m convinced that most parents don’t even realize or think about how they are lessening the love and affection toward their child, because it is a gradual reduction over time. By the time the child is a teenager, there is only infrequent displays of affection from parents.
I’ve known teens and young adults who act like their parents don’t love them. Some of them I know their parents personally, so I know it is not true. However, the child’s point of view is different than reality. So the big question is, Why?
When we don’t say “I love you” or give them hugs and kisses frequently, they start to think that we don’t love them as much as we used to. I know that there are different “love languages” and that each child is different, but I’m still convinced that no matter what love language your child has, they need to be reminded frequently that you love them unconditionally. They need to know that no matter what they do or say, that you will always love them.
We have tried to constantly show our son affection and unconditional love, and to make sure that no matter what happens, we will always love him and be there for him. For those of you that know us, you know that I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve. So you can probably correctly guess that my wife, Karen, is the one that has championed this behavior. She even holds hands and prays with our son every morning before he goes to school or work. And we both tell him we love him as often as we can.
Our son is now 23 years old, has graduated from college, and was just hired to start his professional career. Even now, we tell him a few times per day that we love him. We also still give hugs and hold hands when we pray. You might think this is a little childish, and that we are babying him. To some extent, you might be right; however, the benefits that we have experienced with being very close to our son, seems well worth it.
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates. (Psalms 127:3-5 NLT)