There are SO many things that we have to teach our children. But the first is that we love them. And this lesson is one that must be taught again and again, until the child feels it through his bones and then more.
And if you ask me: “What, Isn’t fear of G-d more important?”
Well, if a child doesn’t know that you love him, he has no way of imagining that G-d does. After all, if his OWN parents don’t love him, than he can only feel unworthy of ANY love. Who will love him if his parent’s can’t? And I will add that the best way to get a child who is “off the way” to return is to accept him and love him.
Now, I am sure that ALL of my readers know that they love their children. But do they know it? Did you ever look in a mirror when yelling at your kids? Do you know how awful that looks?
I will be honest enough to admit that I yell at my kids. I am not proud of it, but I am not pretending here to be perfect.
But I also:
1. Listen… even when my 20 year old admits that he no longer wants to live the type of life I would like him to. I may mention that fact in passing, but I will be sure that he knows that I love him despite this. And that I admire other aspects of his personality. And that he must stay in contact with me, I will not compromise on that.
2. Can give a warm caress, a tussle of the hair, even a hug, even though in general I am not the demonstrative type. This applies also (in private) to those teenage sons who blush at a quick hug.
3. Can be flexible. Rethink that request; give up my plans for the evening in order to watch a movie my teen brought home; trust him with something I was hesitant about.
4. Am civil. Even when denying something, do it nicely. He may still scream at you “I hate you!”, but he will see by the HOW if you hate or not.
And while you can say “I love you” it helps. But actions, and words, speak louder than words.