I wonder if she's doing that right?

Thank Goodness! Neuropsychologist Offers “Foolproof” Ways to Show Our Kids We Love Them

Trying not to vomit on my pink-colored muffin:

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to see if you’d be interested in receiving tips from parenting expert ______ , Psy.D on 3 Foolproof Was to Make Sure Your Child Feels Your Love, even during the chaos of daily life.

A Clinical Psychologist specializing in Neuropsychology, and mom of two, Dr. ________ has great insights on how parents can make sure their child really feels their love, even on the days when they are challenging, frustrating and even obnoxious.

Yep, parental love simply does not get through to kids unless either every moment is perfect OR their parents have been coached by an expert.

This is one of the things that drives me CRAZIEST about our culture: The idea that our kids simply will not “get” that we really love them unless we take extra measures to prove it. An article I once read about why to put little notes in your kid’s lunch box said it was so the kids would know you are thinking about them even when you are not together.

How fragile are they trying to make us believe the parent-child bond is?

There are moms and dads who move away for YEARS to make a living while their kids are back home, and even THOSE kids know how much their parents love them. So I think kids who are separated from their moms for the school day are pretty sure they are still loved at 3 p.m.

The key here is the false assumption fragility. In truth, kids are not fragile. Love is not fragile. Our lives and parenting and afterschool homework sessions do not have to be perfect for love to persist. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day BELIEVING in love. – L.

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I wonder if she’s doing that right?

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20 Responses to Thank Goodness! Neuropsychologist Offers “Foolproof” Ways to Show Our Kids We Love Them

  1. Powers February 14, 2017 at 8:36 am #

    Actually, Lenore, there is a subset of kids out there who, due to reasons beyond their control, can often feel like their parents don’t care about them. The parents may be pre-occupied with finances or a divorce or any number of other worries, or they might just not convey their feelings well. Or the parents may not actually feel parental love at all.

    I don’t think you can categorically state that all kids know they’re loved by their parents.

    Of course, those kind of parents also don’t read articles about making sure their kids know they love them.

  2. Emily February 14, 2017 at 9:54 am #

    Now I’m curious….And there’s no link to the article.

  3. Jessica February 14, 2017 at 9:56 am #

    And that’s the deal, Powers. The parents who are really emotionally neglectful don’t read articles like this. Articles like this just stoke the neuroses of parents who are doing fine.

    I’m a school teacher, so from my line of sight: It is similar to all the literature about ensuring that your child is “ready to read” by talking to them as infants, reading books aloud, having alphabet toys, etc. There are many parents whose children are definitely not “ready to read” by preschool— but those parents are not reading articles about it. They’re preoccupied with working minimum-wage jobs, or they’re barely literate themselves, etc. The middle-class parents (whose kids are picking up early literacy by osmosis because both parents read regularly and read aloud and talk to them) just get panicked and neurotic because they are constantly inundated with blog posts and Pinterest boards indicating that they aren’t doing enough to teach literacy at home.

  4. Stacey February 14, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    if you have to remind someone to tell someone that they love them or create a fake holiday, along with all the marketing that goes with it, to tell people how to behave, I don’t think it feels genuine on the receiving end. Just going through, Oh, hey it’s such and such day, I’m supposed to ….XYZ

  5. Steve February 14, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    In general, I agree. Having been a kid with depression, I would disagree. Having a hold with reactive attachment disorder, I would disagree. Those are only relevant if the article is addressing one of those special cases, of course.

  6. James Pollock February 14, 2017 at 10:55 am #

    “I don’t think you can categorically state that all kids know they’re loved by their parents.”

    I don’t even think you can categorically state that all kids ARE loved by their parents.

  7. Dienne February 14, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    Sure, some kids don’t actually feel loved and some, in fact, are not actually loved. But in those cases, these “foolproof” gimmicks aren’t going to work. The only thing that works to convince your kids you love them is to, well, actually love them. Kids have very finely tuned BS detectors. A note in a lunchbox isn’t going to convince a kid you love them when you spent the other 17 waking hours with your nose in your phone.

  8. Christopher Byrne February 14, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    Usually when I get a press release touting something as “foolproof,” that’s a clear indication it was written by a fool.

  9. Kirsten February 14, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

    I think you always have to ask yourself, “Who is the fragile one here? The child or the parent? Who needs constant reassurances here?” All the result of us having too much time on our hands these days. If you’re busy living you don’t have time to worry about made up issues.

  10. JTW February 14, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

    “Actually, Lenore, there is a subset of kids out there who, due to reasons beyond their control, can often feel like their parents don’t care about them. The parents may be pre-occupied with finances or a divorce or any number of other worries, or they might just not convey their feelings well. Or the parents may not actually feel parental love at all.”

    And a lot of helicopter parents seem to consider their children just an annoyance, at least they act like that and that no doubt rubs off on the little ones.

    Instead of interacting with them, they use ever more technology to control what their offspring does, when, and where.
    In part that’s of course because they are so obsessed with doing things perfectly without having been told by someone in authority how to do that, only what numbers amount to perfection (blood pressure, heart rate, sleep rhythm, etc. etc.) that they overly much rely on technology to tell them they’re doing a good job.
    It’s not about the children at all for them, it’s about looking ‘proper’ to their peers.
    And the children are basically (to those parents) something you’re supposed to do to be seen by society as successful, well balanced, adults. They’re as much props to their parents as a small dog is to many women, s fashion accessory rather than an object of affection.

    So now these parents get told by an authority figure how to show they love their children properly, another tick mark on the spreadsheet of things to do with your children so your friends and colleagues will see how successful you are.

    Welcome to parenting, 21st century style.

  11. Workshop February 14, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

    Exceptions prove the rule.

    I don’t need someone with a doctorate degree to tell me how to make sure my children feel loved. I also don’t need someone telling me how to treat clinical depression, because my kids don’t have it. But by saying “be on the lookout for these symptoms,” we are being told “clinical depression is just around the corner!”

    You know how my kids knows I love them? Because I go to job I don’t like in order to keep a roof over their head, food on the table, and clothes on their bodies. I take time to read to them once in a while, and I enforce the limits on childish behavior. I hug them and kiss them, and when they have a nightmare I sit with them until they get back asleep. How many PhD’s did I interact with to learn that? None.

    That tells you the value of many graduate degrees.

    For the record, I love my job, and reading happens more than once in a while. The nightmare thing is Mom’s role; I’m busy sleeping.

  12. EricS February 14, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    Lol! Even experts can be a little…exaggerated. Kids, especially very young ones, don’t understand the concept of “love”. When a child is born, it takes in the world and their parents emotions through interaction. Touch, sight, sound. They cry to things that they don’t resonate with. They laugh and smile with the ones they do. Touch is a universal language that goes beyond borders, age, gender, religion. Even a sincere, heart felt hug from a total stranger makes us feel good. And we never have to say a word.

    Many parents seem to believe they have to GIVE things to show their love. When really, all they need is to hug, pay attention, and share positive energy with their children. They feel it. Then add “I love you”. Now they are understanding the meaning of the word “love”. Not through toys, lunch boxes, big birthday parties. But through the simple and natural way of simple, nuturing human contact. It’s the very same principle of why when our kids our born, they are put on our bare chests to hold. That bond starts from day one. And nothing is stronger.

  13. EricS February 14, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    @Stacey: BINGO! Just like anything else humans have normalized. Christmas. That’s primarily commercial too. Most people think of it as decorations, gifts, and parties. Many have forgotten the original meaning of Christmas. Peace, love, and good will towards ALL. I see the most angry and intolerant people during the holidays.

    We just need to go back to basics. True intentions. Not commercialized ones.

  14. Dave February 14, 2017 at 6:02 pm #

    This sort of useless and potentially damaging advice is the result of professionals who feel compelled to build or enhance their reputations by “publishing” in parenting magazines and similar publications – or even write entire books! Whatever sells best – and that’s usually fear.

    In fact, if you read books on promoting your business, one common suggestion is that you frequently publish novel material that will attract and engage potential customers – even if it’s just short articles or your own newsletter. The name of the game is to keep your name in front of customers at all times.

    The never ending need for new material almost certainly contributes to the stream of crazy advice.

  15. Dave February 14, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

    I just found and read Dr. O’Leary’s advice, and it’s not bad stuff. Good generic stuff, not over the top at all. No fear mongering here. Lenore, are you running out of stuff to write about?

    http://www.stephanieoleary.com/

  16. Rebecca February 15, 2017 at 9:08 am #

    AMEN Sister! Why do I need to feel guilty when doing grown up things like working or paying the bills? My children are not loved less…I’m showing them love by paying the bills and ensuring their place in the world.

  17. SKL February 15, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    When I was a kid, I used to hear all that crap (mostly on TV, which I knew was fake) and I thought it was dumb. My parents did NOT do all that lovey dovey stuff, especially when we were old enough to go to school. I did not feel like my folks were lovey dovey. BUT I also did not feel like that was needed or wanted.

    Funny thing, I was focused on learning how to take care of myself, because time comes when we all have to do that.

    Now my home was pretty good by most measures. My folks had 6 kids but they were together. We were statistically poor but always ate and had clothes and a roof. Mom worked but made sure our needs were met. People got stressed out but not hateful. All of those realities were really wordless ways to say our parents loved us – though we would not have viewed it that way at the time. At the time, it simply wasn’t a question. It was something to take for granted that our parents cared. (Well, until the hormones kicked in, LOL.)

    To me, if you have to keep reassuring your kids that you “love” them, that means they can’t or don’t take it for granted. If we as parents worry about this, I would ask why – what is it about us that would make our kids doubt what should be a natural feeling?

    I agree that there are special cases. I’m an adoptive mom, so I get it. I also remember times when my mom expressed that she was suicidal – those were not comfy times. But in general, it seems like parents “protest too much.”

    And I can’t help wondering if that is a reason behind some of the unstable behaviors we are seeing nowadays. Grown people having uncontrolled tantrums. In what world? Life has ups and downs. Sometimes people we like don’t like us back. Sometimes things we won’t aren’t forthcoming. Life goes on.

  18. pentamom February 15, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    “To me, if you have to keep reassuring your kids that you “love” them, that means they can’t or don’t take it for granted. If we as parents worry about this, I would ask why – what is it about us that would make our kids doubt what should be a natural feeling?”

    Standing ovation.

  19. Papilio February 16, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    Notes in lunchboxes sound like a good way to ensure your kid will be bullied. “Grab his lunchbox! See what his mommy wrote today!”

    “My parents did NOT do all that lovey dovey stuff, especially when we were old enough to go to school. I did not feel like my folks were lovey dovey. BUT I also did not feel like that was needed or wanted.”

    Well, yes. But I feel the same about throwing an “(I) Love you” in between “Bye bye” and slamming the door behind you on the way to work. What does it still mean if saying those words are a habit you barely think about?

    In my life, the verbal ‘I love you’s were said at the emotional(ly) big moments in life. The little daily ones are unspoken; they’re in laughing at the cat together, passing the butter without being asked, sharing stupid jokes/puns, friendly teasing, bringing a cup of tea when the other person is at work at their computer, etc etc etc.

    Also, when I was growing up, occasionally when we were alone together, my mother would give me a big hug and ask, “Are you still a happy child?” Serious question, she really wanted to know. (It was also nice to be able to think about it for a moment and answer without eye contact – all during that hug.) Who needs a daily ‘Bye-love-you-*SLAM*’ when you have that?

  20. Megan February 17, 2017 at 3:00 am #

    Love may not exactly be fragile, but attachment and love also are not transcendent or indestructible. My mother starting making a series of very bad decisions when I was nine that soon lead to the complete destruction of her attachment to me. Some people assume that if they feel something they call love, they can rest assured that they are a good mom or dad, and this cannot, in reality, be taken for granted. The truth is that some children whose parents move away to make a living DO NOT feel loved because they’re not, and some children who grow up with their parents right there also don’t feel loved because, as was true for me, they’re not. Not all parents love their children, and having notes written to them will not fool these children. Real love is communicated by affection, attention and respect.

    And kids may not be fragile in the sense that helicopter parents imagine they are, but it is not nearly as difficult to damage their self-esteem and much else they need to be emotionally healthy as many people want to believe. I can’t imagine how many truly bad parents are enabled in feeling dissociated from the damage they do by the oft-repeated “wisdom” that “Kids are so resilient!”