As different as children can be from each other, there are three things every child needs. First, they need to know that their parents love them. Next, they need their parents’ praise. And, third, they need to know that their parents value their relationship with them.
Most moms meet those three needs without even thinking about it. But there is another way to meet those three needs of our children—something lasting and tangible: a letter. Writing letters like this is about more than just jotting a note; it’s words written in such a way that your children’s 3 needs are met, and they’ll have it in writing. Writing letters strengthens the connection between you and your child. So no matter how young your children are, write them this letter today. Here’s how.
Part 1: “I love you.”
Share with your child that you love him or her unconditionally. For example, you could say, “I will always love you because you are my child, not because of what you do.” You could even simply say, “I love you no matter what.” or “Nothing will stop my love for you.” The most important thing is to make sure your child knows your love is unconditional and not based on grades, or on how nice she is to you, or on whether he makes captain of the baseball team.
Part 2: “I praise you.”
Let your child know how proud you are of him or her, his or her accomplishments, his or her unique talents and abilities. For example, you could say, “I am always so proud of how you treat your brothers and sisters, and how you always help around the house.” You might also say something such as, “I am so proud of how you brought your grades up last semester,” “I am amazed by how well you play the piano,” “I am always impressed with how you are willing to share with others,” or “I am proud of your hard work, practice, and talent that got you on the football team.”
Part 3: “About our relationship…”
Use this paragraph to talk about how you value your relationship with your child and possible ways it can be even better. Writing letters is not a time to criticize your child or to place blame for any relationship problems, but an acknowledgment of your own shortcomings and an apology for any wrongs you have made.
You can also share what you wish for your relationship with your child. Maybe your hopes for your relationship are focused on spending more quality time together, learning how to communicate better, or even getting to know your child better. For example, “I apologize for spending too much time working late. I wish we could spend more time together. Maybe we can plan for Thursday evenings to be our Family Night.” or “I wish we could be more open about our problems. Let’s talk one night this week about how we can change that.”
Your child may not receive your letter as warmly or openly appreciative as you might hope, but as Hutchcraft puts it, “a letter like this, written positively and honestly, will go right to a child’s heart.”
Have you ever written a letter to your children? What part was the most important to you?
This article is based on the book Five Needs Your Child Must Have Met at Home by Ron Hutchcraft.