Even if you tell your children you love them a thousand times, it will all be empty words unless you show your love in ways that speak to their hearts. And even if you knew what was best for them in every aspect of life and always served their best interests to perfection, if you failed to express your love, nothing else would mean anything to them. And even if you literally worked yourself to death to provide them with an unending stream of the best material advantages, if you failed to show love through words and attention, no one would gain anything worthwhile from your efforts.
Love is patient, even when your child “has to” talk just when you feel the busiest, even when your toddler’s “helping” with chores proves more hindrance than anything else. Love is kind when a well-meaning preschooler makes you a sandwich and leaves the kitchen in shambles. Love is not envious of parents whose children are exceptionally smart or attractive, nor does it become swellheaded and boastful when its own children achieve something exceptional. Love does not behave rudely or lose its temper easily, even when a child is constantly underfoot at all the wrong moments. It does not insist things always go perfectly by its own definition, nor engage in “I told you so” gloating if a child’s own ideas fail to work out, nor accuse children of deliberate disrespect without proof. Love rejoices in its children’s pleasure, is understanding when they are in bad moods, routinely gives them the benefit of the doubt, and always visualizes a bright future for them even while they’re going through the worst of phases.
Love is unconditional and unending. When you have expectations, they may be disappointed; when you obtain promises, they may be forgotten; when you think you know what’s best for your kids, you may be proven wrong. For human knowledge, let alone foresight, is imperfect and incomplete at best. But when you love and believe in your children—and let them know it at every opportunity—eventually you will see them blossom in ways that exceed your wildest dreams.
Remember that you yourself were once a child with childish impulses, childish understanding, and childish ideas—and even though you are now officially “grown up,” there is still much you don’t know and much you can’t understand. Eventually, your children will outgrow their more immature behavior and become adults you can be proud of and know as one adult to another. For now, continue to believe in them, to encourage them, and especially to love them unconditionally, always giving them the best of yourself in thought, word, and deed.