“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!

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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.

20 replies on ““You Is Kind. You Is Smart. You Is Important.””

  1. Oh Kate, what a wonderful post! I love this! I was told every day, by my Dad in particular, how clever I was and how much he loved me. I still make sure to tell my parents, every time I speak to them, that I love them. Every day that hubby leaves for work I say “I love you”. Some might say that this is over-kill. That it takes the impact out of the statement if you say it all the time but I disagree. We need to hear “I love you” every day, several times a day, no matter what. Ella will do this too which is a result of my telling her numerous times a day, “I love you”. She’ll be babbling on about something in the back of the car and I’ll say “Sweetheart, I can’t hear you” and she’ll shout “I love you Mummy”. It warms my heart and even brings a tear to my eye. Aw.
    Thanks so much for this lovely post…we’ll find a way to use it for sure!
    🙂 Karin

    1. Karin, thanks for taking the time to write such a lovely comment. I think it’s even more important for a father to tell his daughter she’s special and loved as if they don’t, they just go looking for that affection in all the wrong places. Speaking from experience. It’s weird, I knew I was loved, I just don’t get why it’s so hard for some people to say it. And bless Ella … I can just envision her shouting “I love you Mummy’ from the back of the car. Bless 🙂 x

  2. I grew up knowing I was loved and being told all the time too. I am from a really tactile family and I firmly believe in telling my children that they are great, loved, gorgeous and just well damn perfect!

    I believe in positive affirmations and tell the boys they are clever, they are smart, they are good and will be good men.

    On the father front, MadDad is the best father the boys could have ever asked for, he adores them and they him. He never missed a bath time in their early years and this was hard to do, but he got up early and went in to work, so he could get home for 6pm every night. He even handed in his job when Maxi was 4 months old and seriously ill in hospital as his firm were not being understanding.

    1. Jen, that’s so nice to hear. My mum’s side was very affectionate, but my dad’s … not so much. Thankfully, I take after Mum which is why I love giving/getting lots of hugs when I see my new online friends! (Although I do observe the no hugging rule as far as Sally is concerned 🙂

  3. Kate, Thank you so much for writing this post. I needed to read it on many levels. One of my parents hardly ever told me the words ‘I love you’, the other used them freely and still does today. I know that both of them love me but it’s something I consciously knew I would do differently with my own kids and make it a point to tell all my daughters frequently. Your post has inspired me to make sure it’s EVERY day. Like Karin, I agree, you can never really hear it enough. This world throws so much negativity at us, telling each other how much we are loved and mean can never be a bad thing.
    Thanks again,

    1. Magz, thanks so much for commenting. You’re right thought, you can never hear ‘I love you’ too much. Ever 🙂 I’d say it to you right now if I knew you better 🙂 x

  4. What a lovely post. Ever since seeing The Help last week I’ve been haunted by the scene on the front lawn where Aibileen says that to Mae Mowbley while she’s crying. I so want my son to have the kind of self confidence that would come from having those words as a mantra. I know that he’s too little to understand it yet but I fully plan on saying something similar at bedtime every night and when he is sad. I think that even as a grown up, it can be good to be reminded of those things.
    I’m so glad I won’t be the only mummy telling her little boy that he’s smart, kind and important, amongst other things. X

  5. This is lovely. I have to confess to calling J ‘best boy in the world’ quite a lot. Well, he is to me! We give him lots of praise, talk about his day, tell him how proud we are of him and all he does. And we make sure we both go up at bedtime every night and make sure he goes to sleep knowing how much we love him. He’s centre of our world, and he knows it!

  6. Gorgeous, utterly gorgeous post and so glad to be directed here by Brit Mums. My husb loves to write songs in his (very small amount of) spare time so he’s keen on finding the right words – we’re pretty much along the telling our daughter we love her all the time, every day – can’t wait till she finds it embarrassing (she’s 2 – so not as yet…) Fatherhood has definitely made husb more tactile/loving with his own parents – there’s something about the circle of life maybe…?

  7. Found this post via Britmums, and it has made me cry. It has made me cry because (uh oh, get the violins out!) I never got told that I was loved growing up, my childhood was a very complex one and I can’t really go into here, but that very fact made me grow into an adult who was/is searching for the very thing I never had – love or affection – and usually in the wrong places. I do, however, make sure that every single day I tell each of my 4 children how much I love them, even the baby. Hopefully that will mean they dont end up as emotionally flawed as me, and that they know – no matter what – their mum loves them.

  8. Hmm. Interesting post. REALLY interesting post.

    I agree that feeling loved and valued and secure is massively important to children. I grew up in the North where we rarely said such things to one another, but I never questioned that I was loved, that my parents were proud of me. I am sure Flea feels the same. I know she does, she tells me so.

    At the same time – there’s an epidemic of concern in modern parenting where we seem to be wildly concerned about our kids’ self-esteem. And some parents take it too far (in my, ahem, expert view). There’s a difference between our kids knowing they’re fundamentally good people and we love them, and our kids absorbing the belief that they’re perfect, that they’re amazing, that they’re always special, that everything they do merits a big fat round of applause – research shows this can give kids unrealistic expectations, can make them self-centred, doesn’t give them the coping skills they need when they fail, when they’re challenged, when they’re wrong. Kids often today struggle to do anything unless someone is waiting at the end with the equivalent of a marching band and a “Great job, honey!”

    So you end up with a generation of Americans appearing on X-Factor and believing they are entitled to something because it’s their “dream”, that they don’t need to work for a living unless it’s “fulfilling”, that words like duty and responsibility and obligation don’t apply, because their sole purpose in life is to make themselves feel good.

    God, I hope that doesn’t sound too middle-aged. I guess that while I think it’s important for Flea to know that I love her, that I admire her many good qualities, I also recognise that she’s fallible, that she won’t always be amazing and perfect, and it’s important I only praise her when it’s appropriate.

    Possibly, I should have written a blog post rather than this ridiculously long comment, sorry.

  9. Thanks for commenting Sally. I agree there’s a fine line between making a child feel loved and secure and setting a child up to not being able to cope with failure. I try to give my boys ‘real’ … ie. there are things you will fail at but it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make you a bad person. That’s just life. Kids find it hard enough transitioning from school to the real world as it is … (my Other Half wrote a great post on this – http://3dfitlife.com/3DFitLife/Parents_%26_Mentors/Entries/2011/10/11_The_Bridge_-_From_School_To_Society.html) …. without us parents setting them up be like Perfect Peter. (Horrid Henry’s brother is a great example to Skig about how being ‘perfect’ isn’t where it’s at.)

    Our motto at home has always been about the ‘trying’ not the ‘winning’ … so as long as our kids try hard, regardless of the outcome, they know that’s what matters to us. Winning is a bonus. Sometimes, if you just let kids work things out for themselves, they surpass all our expectations. (http://www.3dfitlife.com/3DFitLife/Parents_%26_Mentors/Entries/2011/10/4_Entry_1.html)

    Parenting is hard innit! We can only do what feels right I guess.

  10. Love the post Kate – it is so important to let the kids know they are loved – my mom and dad would keep telling us and I have been telling my kids that I love them very often. As long as the children are brought up knowing they are loved / trusted and see good values and morals around them am sure most of them will grow up with a head on their shoulders.

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