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Mac Bledsoe's Parenting With Dignity program.
You can fake like you care, but you can't fake being
By Mac Bledsoe
In the lives of our kids it is often easy to become
caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life
and forget to "show up" in our kid's lives. It
is common, in the hurry of the day to speak much more cheerfully
to the person serving coffee at the Quick-Stop on the way to work
than to those in our family that we love. With
summer upon us and a busier schedule for all it
never hurts to stop and develop a plan for SOWING THAT
WE CARE, and not just assuming that others know it.
Here is a list of ways that we can show our love for our
children: (and remember that spouses can
benefit from the same loving actions!)
- Notice them... get caught staring at them-even throw
in a wink.
- Answer their questions with full attention at eye
- Create traditions and fight for them.
- Laugh at their jokes.
- Include them in your jokes. (If that makes you
uncomfortable, Maybe you ought to change the
jokes you tell.)
- Smile a lot
- Acknowledge them with a heartfelt "Good morning!" and
a "Hi!" when you see them.
- Discuss their dreams (nightmares included.)
- Be relaxed in their presence. Just sit with them.
- Say their names.
- Contribute to their collections.
- Hide surprises for them to find.
- Kneel, squat, sit so that you are at their eye level.
- Go and find them at unexpected times.
- Play outside together.
- Surprise them.
- Remember their birthdays and other significant days
in their lives. ("This was the day that you
took your first step, trip to the doctor, etc.)
- Ask them about themselves.
- When they ask your advice give them options.
- Listen to the answers.
- Stay with them when they are afraid.
- Notice when they are absent.
- Follow them when they lead.
- Play with them... Adults can start the water balloon
- Expect their best... and accept that it is not
- Be available.
- Do what they like to do.
- Share their excitement.
- Be honest.
- Be sincere.
- Include them in conversations.
- Brag about them when they don't think you know they
- Call them from work.
- Eat meals together.
- Plan discussion topics for dinner and announce them
ahead of time.
- Tell them what your expectations are for their
- Practice the behaviors with them before they are in
- Introduce them to adults and tell the adult something
of significance about them.
- Help to see mistakes as learning opportunities and
- Tape record messages to them.
- Tape record them.
- Video tape them just being themselves... like during
one of those dinner conversations.
- Write them letters and send them in the mail.
- Go places together... take them along on errands.
- Build something together.
- Give them jobs at home that require thought and
- Welcome their suggestions and use them.
- Make decisions together.
- When you make decisions for
them include them in your thought processes.
- Help them to take stands on moral and ethical issues
and then stand with them.
- Hug them.
- Set boundaries but help them to understand the
reasons for them.
- Believe what they say.
- Tackle new tasks together.
- Cheer for their accomplishments.
- Encourage them to help others and recognize them when
- Create a safe environment for them.
- Share secrets.
- Stop and enjoy time together. Even a minute at the
- Be consistent but flexible.
- Praise loudly, criticize softly.
- Let them act their age.
- Tell them about yourself.
- Tell them what you believe and why you believe it.
- Help them to become an expert at something.
- Ask their opinion about things.
- Show that you are excited to see them.
- Let them tell you how they feel.
- Display their artwork around the house... nicely
- Thank them!
- Smile at them constantly.
- Keep promises... even small ones. In there eyes they
are all the same size.
- Find a common interest.
- Let them pick the music and listen to it with them.
- Apologize when you've done something wrong.
- Hold hands.
- Take a walk.
- Read aloud together.
- Read moral literature and
help them understand it.
- Use your ears more than your mouth.
- Show up at events.
- Learn from them and let them know what you learned.
- Tell them how terrific they are.
- Always suggest a better behavior when they have
chosen an inappropriate one.
- Be nice.
- Look them in the eye when you talk to them.
- Give them space when they need it.
- Use the car as interaction time.
- Tell them how much you like being with them.
- Develop a "secret word" for your family.
- Meet their friends.
- Meet their friends parents.
- Admit it when you make a mistake.
- Be honest
- Give them a private
nickname and don't use it in front of others. (let
them do the same with you.)
- Above all laugh, Laugh, LAUGH, and laugh some
Print this list and pick one each day
You can plan to show your love
for your kids. Make a list of your own. Find lists elsewhere of ways
of showing love and care. We found many of these in YMCA handouts,
church bulletins, childcare brochures, and other
Remember that you can fake like you care but you can't fake being there.
The common element to each item on the above list is time.
Kids spell love
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