How “I love you” is only the beginning

IMG_0152 Recently, Matthew Paul Turner shared this piece about his daughter, and it got me thinking about my 2-year-old and what I tell her about herself.

So the other night as I was getting her ready for bed, instead of our usual routine I pulled her close and shared a few things with her.

“I think you are awesome, Elizabeth.”

“I think you are smart.”

“I love every day that I get to spend with you.”

At that, she turned and wrapped her arms around my neck in one of the tightest, longest hugs she’s ever given me. I know full well she was tired and that not everything I said probably registered. But these days, she picks up a good deal more than I give her credit for. And I think some of what I said made it through the fog of bedtime.

And it mattered.

You see, I’ve never had a problem telling my daughter that I love her. Heck, I probably tell her so at least a dozen times a day. I don’t have any problem telling her how adorable I think she is, either.

But we need to tell our kids more than that — especially our daughters, who are likely to experience a lifetime of being evaluated not for their minds or their abilities but for their bodies.

As one writer put it some time ago, we need to tell our kids what we see in them, because each statement is a “tiny bit of opposition to a culture that sends all the wrong messages.” “I love you” is a pretty good start. But I’m learning there is so much more that I need to say to my daughter.

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