Do you have daughters? I have given birth to three beautiful little women who bless me, teach me, and inspire me to be better each day. I feel that our relationship has been shaped by a few phrases, ten of which I’m sharing with you today.
It is my prayer that you feel my heart as you read my words, and that you feel inspired to use these phrases with your own daughters, and your sons, too.
Your daughter needs to hear I LOVE YOU
I remember being a young girl and wondering whether anyone loved me and just kind of making a decision based on what I thought love was. I think it is really essential that we tell our kids we love them. I tell my daughters every day, at every possible opportunity. I don’t want them to not know, or to have any doubt that I do. Sure, the words must be coupled with loving actions, but I feel it’s a mistake to underestimate what three little words can do.
Your daughter needs to hear YOU ARE ENOUGH.
I touched on this when I wrote about having a recent hard conversation with my firstborn and middle daughter. We must teach our daughters that they are wonderful just as they are and that failure, hardship, and cluelessness are real parts of life. Like Adam Levine says “it’s not always rainbows and butterflies…” and that’s not only okay, overcoming obstacles is a way to learn, expand, and evolve.
Your daughter needs to hear I’M PROUD OF YOU.
I was saying this to my then one-year-old when a then 78-year-old lady confessed to me she never said this to her kids growing up. I don’t know whether she said this with regret or criticism, but I felt a bit of sadness for her kids.
As a kid, I desperately craved my parents’ approval, so I make sure my daughters know I am proud of them. I make it a point to praise their efforts, because I believe you can only do your personal best. Knowing that I approve effort more than achievement, allows them freedom to be creative, to take more risks, and have fun! Isn’t that what childhood is really about?
Your daughter needs to hear I’M HERE FOR YOU
We all get our feelings hurt, even if sometimes it’s product of a misunderstanding. We all feel disappointed at times, too. I think it’s a beautiful gift to let your child cry and express themselves, while we just listen. It can get difficult to make time for these healing sessions, however, it creates a bond and a sense of safety that will pay off forever. I remember hearing “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent” lines growing up, and I don’t really roll that way. Trust is earned, and if I am not my child’s friend, how do I expect her to trust me?
Your daughter needs to hear TELL ME MORE!
It’s also equally important to listen attentively to our kids when they are dreaming aloud and using their imagination, or when they just want to share an experience that is meaningful to them. I don’t think you ever outgrow the need to be heard. I haven’t. I don’t actually think I ever will.
When I listen to my daughters, they stand a little taller and their eyes light up. My day seems to go a
little lot better, too. There’s nothing like child-like wonder to change your perspective. I feel blessed to have these little teachers in my life.
Your daughter needs to hear I’M SORRY
The year I was born, Elton John sang “sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Certainly a sad situation can get more absurd when we don’t apologize to the ones we love. I’ve had to do a lot of healing over things that could’ve been easily smoothed with this simple statement. After decades, I can see a lot clearer, but I don’t want to take any chances with my kids. Whenever I “lose it,” even when I feel I’m justified, I use the Purple Rain approach and tell my daughters:
“I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain”
None of the other lyrics may apply, but these two powerful sentences, straight outta the 80’s, make all the difference in healing our kids, and modeling perhaps the most important lessons we can ever learn as humans: realness, personal responsibility, and progress.
Your daughter needs to hear ME TOO!
Girls thrive on “Me too’s.” We connect with girls and women like us. It’s so powerful when our daughters know we can relate to them, when they can see past the perfect mythical mother creature society portrays, to see a girl, just like them, who struggles, who cries, who has fears, insecurities, and quirks about her. To know that I was once a child, and I was once their age, and though we are all individuals, we share the human experience of pain… and love. What I know to be true, is that our differences can be frustrating if we don’t acknowledge our similarities.
Your daughter needs to hear I’M GRATEFUL FOR YOU
I know I talk about gratitude a lot, and you may shake your head thinking I’m a broken record, but hey, I’m a big fan! Gratitude is such a special gift that blesses everyone involved. I don’t know if, like me, you grew up hearing how many sacrifices it took to give you what you had, or to even bring you into the world. I always felt like I was a bother and they could have been better off if I weren’t born. I also felt guilty for my parents’ divorce, because my dad was always “on my side” when there was a quarrel between my mom and I. The bottom line is, sure I don’t have the luxuries of being single and carefree, but I want my daughters to know the luxuries I do enjoy because they came around. I feel really blessed and I want them to know it at each and every opportunity I get, because it’s necessary to balance it out. They are a beautiful gift and I want them to feel like they are.
Your daughter needs to hear YES, YOU CAN!
Studies show that the average two-year-old has heard “NO” at least 400 times. I think NO can be an empowering word when we use it to set boundaries, and, of course, when you’re teaching your littles to stay away from the stove, the power outlets, or their own poop LOL. But, I think we become addicted to saying NO… paired with “because I said so,” and other debilitating, disempowering, and limiting cousins (or whatever level of related words).
Saying YES can be a huge commitment. I get it. Saying “YES, you can!” is even scarier. We want to protect our children and we want them to experience happies… so we limit them in fear that they will experience huge disappointment.
Kids blow my mind. You’ve got a 7-year-old asking: “can I be vegan? can I write a book? Can I publish blog posts and videos?” and that catches you off guard. It took courage to say YES, because I didn’t even see how any of it was possible or useful, but I’m so glad I’ve trusted their vision and ignored my overprotective nature to allow her to follow her dreams. YES… you can! sometimes means “YES, although I’m dying to say NO,” and “you can, although I have no idea how“… and that’s okay, because, after all, I just want my kids to feel supported and encouraged, and to know I believe in them, even if they don’t follow through or it doesn’t work out.
Your daughter needs to hear I FORGIVE YOU!
My inner little girl used to feel guilty a lot because of the times I was angry, ungrateful, and hateful. I could have used an “I’m Sorry,” and I really needed an “I forgive you.” Sometimes it feels like our child has broken our heart in uncountable pieces, and a wall comes up – stable and strong. Prayer is what helps me come back calm and forgive my child, not just silently, but verbally, and making eye contact. These words are so healing for both of us and we can feel all the wrinkles melt with a hug. The amount “seventy times seven” makes so much sense when it comes to family, because it feels like we’re always forgiving each other for something, and that renews our bonds and mutual respect.
I believe these are ten things your daughter needs to hear from you… every child needs to hear them. What are some words and phrases you use to create a special bond with your child? I am looking forward to your ideas!