From down the hallway, I could only see his feet. I could tell that my husband was kneeling down, and I heard his voice as I dabbed on some concealer.
“Do you guys know how much we love you?” he said to our kids. “We love you more than anything. We love you no matter what. If someone isn’t nice to you at school, or if you make a poor choice, we will always love you.”
I imagine he gave them each a quick hug, and then he was off to work, closing the front door quietly behind him.
When the kids make up a game at recess and won’t tell our son the rules, we want him to know that we’ll always tell him how to play.
When our daughter doesn’t get asked to a dance, we want her to know that she can always dance with us in the kitchen.
We’ll make up dorky handshakes and wear retro family T-shirts and show our children that we will hold their place at the family dinner table — forever.
We’ll do everything we can to make sure our family identity seeps into every corner of their souls, so that they know without a doubt that they always have a place where they belong.
42 ways to make your kids feel absolutely loved
2. Tell stories from your life. Childhood adventures and youth antics. What you thought the first time you saw your spouse. What you felt on your wedding day and the day your child learned to ride a bike.
3. Kiss them goodnight.
4. Let them climb into bed with you. (Sometimes.)
5. Print pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents, and tell stories from their lives to help build their sense of family identity. We pull our prints out every Christmas.
6. Pick them up from school.
7. Teach them to do something. Read, tie their shoes, shoot a bow and arrow. (My husband has never looked more attractive than when he taught our boys to rainbow loom.)
8. Refer to your family as a team. (Team Braverman, anyone?)
9. Create a family password or handshake. When I was growing up, our family password was our last name spelled backwards. We thought it was the coolest thing ever.
10. Frame and hang photos of them.
11. Give them bubble baths.
12. Watch photo slideshows and family videos clips.
13. Tell them you love them. A lot.
14. Have them lie flat on their bellies and give them back rubs. (Kids love chopsticks.)
16. Slip notes into their lunch boxes. Here’s a great resource for lunch box jokes.
17. Read to them, especially favorites from your childhood.
18. Let them get messy.
20. Make a meal or a treat from your childhood and tell them all about it.
21. Spend time in nature together. Camping, hiking, biking, boating, bird watching
22. Put down your phone.
23. Over the years, create traditions for each child’s birthdays. This family floats a cake in their pool on their daughter’s birthday. We take our oldest to Panera because that’s where we went the night we learned we were expecting him.
24. Create with them. Bake, craft, construct, experiment.
25. Eat something you grew from the ground.
26. Teach them how amazing their bodies are.
27. Have stay-up-late nights, where one kid gets to stay up an extra 15 minutes (or more, depending on their age) and do a one-on-one activity of their choosing with Mom and Dad.
28. Work together to create a family cheer, or borrow this one, like we are. It’s really fun!
29. Set goals together.
30. Have a weekly family night. We don’t manage it every week, but we when we do, we try to answer the three questions Bruce Feiler recommends: What did we do well last week? What didn’t go so well? What can we do better this week?
31. Let them lose track of time. (And learn from it, as you try to carve out more room for timelessness and play in your life.)
32. Explore the stars together.
33. Watch them when they’re sleeping and then tell them about it the next day.
34. Say you’re sorry.
35. Have movie and game nights.
36. Get interested in their interests. (Even if that means learning the ins and outs of Minecraft.)
37. Do a fun run together.
38. Love your spouse.
39. Share your faith with them.
40. Listen with empathy when they’re hurting.
41. Watch out for their natural talents.
42. Say great things about them to your spouse when they don’t think you know they’re listening.
It came as no surprise that twice that day, long after his daddy had stood up and closed the front door, my oldest son brought up what he had heard.
"Mom? Do you remember what Dad said this morning? I do."
I do too, hon. Never forget.