Your children love you. Children are born loving their parents. It’s part of who they are as children. Children love their parents no matter how their parents behave towards them. And it’s absolutely essential to love them back. They can’t help loving you, and if you restrain yourself from loving them, if you don’t behave in a loving and nurturing way, there’s little else you can do to make up for it. This isn’t just a Mormon principle—researchers agree. Children love, and if their love isn’t reciprocated, they will be very, very unhappy.
But of course you love your children—how do you show it? You’ll find that what makes your children feel loved may be different from how you feel loved, or how your other children feel loved. You need to get to know your children and become aware of who they are. There are a number of ways to find out how they feel appreciated and loved.
There are direct ways. It’s completely all right to ask your children how they’d like to be shown love. Do they like outings? Do they like just to be able to talk to you? Do they prefer being told that they’re loved, or do they prefer just to be able to do things with parents, even if those things are chores? Every child is different, and not all may tell you what they really want.
You can also find out by watching them. How do they show you love? How do they not show you love? Do they like to walk into your room and tell you about their day? Do they ask to do a certain activity more than others? Pay attention to your children.
Beyond this, some things are likely to be helpful for all children. Even if you do things with them that aren’t exactly what they like or want, you’re showing your presence. It never hurts to tell children that you love them. It never hurts to be invested and interested in what they do.
When a child does something you like, tell him so. Be aware of when children do more than you ask them to do and praise them for it. They’re more likely to repeat those kinds of behaviors and feel that you appreciate them.
Also, be certain to make physical contact with your children. Hugs are always good to give out, as are pats on the back, and touches in general. Although some children like touch more than others, it’s a vital contact, especially if children are feeling stressed and upset.
And some things, should always be avoided. Be careful about using sarcasm with children, even if you’re just trying to be funny. They’ll pick up on the tone and be hurt. Some children can carry around that hurt for quite a long time.
President of the Mormon Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, said: “Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God. . . . Love them, take care of them. Fathers, control your tempers. . . . Mothers, control your voices. . . . Rear your children in love, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Take care of your little ones. Welcome them into your homes, and nurture and love them with all of your hearts.” Mormons believe that children are very important and, as such, should be treated with profound tenderness and respect.
Read more about this topic here: Being Loving and Nurturing