5 Ways to Love Your Kids the Way They Are

5 ways to love your kids

A friend of mine and her husband are super athletic and outgoing. He was a popular high school football star; she’s a marathoner and is super friendly. Their son is none of the above. He’s a great boy – wonderful student, nice personality, and very kind, but he’s not his parents. Thank goodness they love him for who he is. It’s important to love your kids for who they are.

Some families all march to the beat of the same drummer: they all love sports, or they all love music, for instance. But sometimes you have a child whose natural talents and interests are worlds apart from yours. How do you connect to that child and appreciate him for who he is? Here are some ways to make your kids feel loved for who they are.

1. Listen More.

If your child is an artist, and you don’t have an artsy bone in your body, this may be your chance to grow and broaden your own horizons. Ask them to explain how they went about a recent drawing or painting, or what inspired the subject. And then really listen. You’ll begin to understand, through listening, what makes them tick, and how to appreciate their gift. Here’s how to listen to your kids.

2. Meet Them in the Middle.

If your kid is a year-round jock, but you’ve never played a sport in your life, find a middle ground like sports fandom. Even if you’re not the parent who’ll be in the backyard for hours throwing the ball, you can pop some popcorn and watch a game together over the weekend, talking about the action. It will demonstrate to your kid that even though sports aren’t your natural gift, you value them and “get it.”

3. Don’t Confuse Preference with Character.

If your husband was the star quarterback, but your son doesn’t want to play football, don’t accuse him of being a quitter. Sure, you don’t want him to drop out on a commitment mid-season or let his team down, but it’s not a lack of character to want to try something else. The traits you want to instill are hard work and perseverance and those can be taught in the school play or on the debate team, too.

4. Go for Variety Early.

When your children are young, let them participate in a variety of activities without bias. Then just observe where they feel most at home, most motivated, and have natural ability. If you label them too early, they may miss out on pursuits that would have been very meaningful and formative.

5. Remember that it takes ALL Kinds.

If we were all just alike, how boring would that be? Maybe you’re introverted and your kid is Mr. Personality. Maybe you love the outdoors and your child would rather be at home with a good book. Remember, it takes all kinds of folks to make the world go ‘round. It’s OK to have separate interests—it doesn’t mean that you love one another any less! Try these 38 Things Accepting Moms Say today.

Tell us! How do you let your kids know that you accept them the way they are?

Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.