2. Render daily outpourings of love.
The good seeds of gospel teaching sown within a family, like the seeds sown in a garden, can only germinate, take root, and thrive in an emotionally warm environment. Faith is fortified by love. . . . Creating a home environment where children learn the gospel, live its precepts, love the Lord, and are unified with and obedient to parents requires liberal outpourings of love every day. We prove our love with every action and every word. Loving our children requires that we tell them and show them.
[Here are a few things you can be doing to show your love to your children:]
It’s about Time
Time is the currency of love. It is a commodity that represents our love. It is difficult to precisely define love, but it is quite easy to describe how to show love. The phrase “I love you”—as important as it is—is somewhat abstract to a child. He may know in a superficial way what the words mean. But what really matters is that his father plays ball with him or that his mother reads to him. The time a parent spends with a child is a very real commodity of value, a tangible evidence of love.
Have Fun Together
Family closeness and emotional connectedness can be strengthened through playing and laughing together. Sometimes even activities that by their very nature aren’t intended to be fun, like doing dishes, cleaning the house, or working in the yard, can be productive in emotional ways.
Develop Family Traditions
One of the most important ways we can demonstrate our emotional connectedness, loyalty, and love as a family is through appropriate family traditions. Special events such as holidays, birthdays, Church ordinances, graduations, and other important events provide us with an opportunity to create memorable family traditions.
Spend Time with Each Child
Our children need, desire, and appreciate one-on-one time with their parents. Time spent with individual children shows even greater commitment to family by demonstrating parental love for one child at a time, not just the family unit as a whole. This is particularly important in the Latter-day Saint culture, where families tend to be larger than average.
“I Love You”
Each of us, including our children, needs to hear verbal assurances of love, even when we see active evidence of it. Both kinds of love—words and deeds—are essential to a happy family.
Love Your Spouse
Expressions of love between husband and wife are also important expressions of love for children. Every loving word, act of kindness, and gesture of affection between husband and wife contributes to children’s sense of security and love in the home.
For more powerful tips and tools to help your relationship with your children, check out 10 Secrets Wise Parents Know: Tried and True Things You Can Do to Raise Faithful, Confident, Responsible Children.
When it comes to raising your children, how do you know what works? One way is to go to the kids themselves and ask them, which is exactly what researchers and authors Brent L. Top and Bruce A. Chadwick have done. Based on a major, 10-year study they conducted with more than 5,000 LDS teens and an additional 1,000 young adults, they have honed in on 10 parenting principles that surfaced again and again in the happiest families.