“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
Aibileen Clark – ‘The Help’
I met my best friend for coffee this morning and after we’d dissected this week’s episode of Jersey Shore (I only watch it for … erm … research purposes,) and eaten our own body weight in croissants, I mentioned a blog post to her that I’d read this week that really affected me.
It was written by Dan, an American single dad, who blogs at Single Dad Laughing. He wrote about how he’d seen a young boy belittled in his local Costco store by the boy’s father and went on to talk about a father’s role in a child’s life. You can read it HERE. It’s long, but well worth reading. It’s had over 2,000 comments left and I may well write about my thoughts on this in a later post.
I said to my friend how proud I was that my Other Half was such an amazing dad to our children – how lucky I was to find him, and that even though I thought that my friend’s ex had his faults shall we say, (coming from someone who’s … cough … so obviously perfect as a parent,) I felt he was fundamentally a good father to their son.
We began talking about making children feel important and I asked her if her parents had ever told her they’d loved her.
She told me no, they never had. Not that she remembered anyway. I said the same about my parents. I don’t ever remember being told that I was loved.
As a parent myself now, I think that’s kinda shocking. I can’t imagine never telling my children I love them. But the thing to remember is that we both felt very much loved by our parents growing up and perhaps it just wasn’t the ‘done thing’ back then to tell your kids you loved them all the time. Or maybe it was just our parents who were like that.
There was a scene in the film The Help that I saw last week that really touched me. Aibileen, one of the black maids, was talking to her charge, a very young, pink-cheeked white girl, Mae Mowbley, and every day she would say to her: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” The young girl would repeat it back to Aibileen as best as she could, mouthing the words carefully, looking straight into her big, brown eyes. It brought me to tears because I do the same thing with my boys. Skig is seven years old and every time I put him to bed …. every …. single night, I tell him how loved he is by both of us. How smart he is. How kind, handsome, clever and important he is.
Why wouldn’t I? He is all of those things.
I know there’s a whole lot more to parenting than saying words and I have to use a different approach with my teen because it’s such a …. delicate …. time shall we say. My, “You’re so smart and handsome” phrase has always been met with, “But you’re biased Mum.” True, I am. Very. Doesn’t mean it’s not true. But I know it sinks in on a deeper level. He just doesn’t like to admit it! And I know, as much as he moans about it, he’d miss it if I didn’t say it.
They’re just words, I know, but I wish my parents had said them to me anyway. I wish I’d been given a real sense of importance growing up and I can’t help but wonder that maybe, just maybe, I would have made different choices growing up if I did.
The important thing to remember though is that I felt loved and that’s what I hope my boys feel.
My Other Half’s mantra to our boys is, “You’re the greatest of all time,” and I think that’s awesome. Sums up why I fell in love with him.
I will continue to tell them how wonderful they are, how loved they are … whether they like it or not!