Submitted by Sylvia

        It is extremely important for parents to learn to extend their love in ways that the child actually perceives as "love." Many parents who really love their children sometimes show it in ways that only the parents can see, rather than in ways that come through to the child. (Example: Working hard on the job to provide for the family: Providing good meals: Providing clothing: Providing a nice home: Cooking meals: Cleaning the home: Doing the Laundry: These are all ways Dads and Moms show their love - But that the children cannot perceive as such.) The child perceives parental love in many ways but several are especially important.

Time: The parent who has no time for the child cannot really communicate love for that child, regardless of how real the love may be. Many parents try to substitute gifts for time, but gifts are an inadequate expression of love. What the child wants is not the parent's gifts but the parent's time.

Attention: How many times during these early years does a child say "See my new dress?" or "See what I made in school." or "Daddy, watch." Parental attention is extremely important to the child's self-concept. Attention says, "you are important. I Love you."

Listening: One of the basic needs of every human being is the need to be important. And one of the best ways to show another's importance is to listen -- really listen. Through listening, parents not only find out what's going on in the child's life, but also lay the groundwork for the child to listen to them. A child who is not listened to will not listen.

Training: Basic training for the everyday tasks of life are essential to healthy growth. Such basic tasks as bathing, washing one's hands, brushing teeth, setting the table, and sweeping the floor must be learned. And they are best learned by watching an experienced, respected, loving "helper." Doing things with the child that the child wants to do: The parent who reads, plays, walks, and talks with the child is forming a basic relationship with that growing human being that says, "I love you and you matter to me."

Encouragement: The apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:11 "As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children."

        Many parents find themselves drifting into the habit of being primarily negative with their children. But best results are achieved by the positive, encouraging things that we say to them. Someone has said, "If we would find more things in our children to commend, there would be fewer things to criticize."

        Our children need our encouragement. As we focus on their assets and strengths, rather than on their weaknesses and failures, we help them build a good self-concept. This means recognizing improvement and effort as well as accomplishment.

        Let's love our children in ways that they can understand - by giving them our time, our attention, by listening to them, by training them, by doing things with them, and by encouraging them.

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