I'm visiting with my dear friend, the one who told me that the sign of a happy childhood is dirty children. This is my same friend who raises five children without a television set or computer games. I'm always eager for what new parenting advice she'll impart.
Today, I watch and listen. Over and over again, I hear her tell her children, "I just love to be with you." Her teenage daughter comes to sit next to her, and she says, "I'm so glad! I just love to be with you." She still walks with the teenager to school, she says, "because I just love to be with her so much." She says it so that daughter can overhear her.
The teenager's beaming face lights the whole kitchen.
Later, we leave to go on a walk in the neighborhood, and the oldest children want to come along. Their mother says, "Of course! I just love to be with you!"
That's the phrase I hear the most coming out of this mother's mouth.
I make lunch with my daughters later, and I tell them, "I just love to be with you." I walk outside and push them on the swing and tell them, "I just love to be with you."
Something's changed between us already.
I wonder if children would make better choices, grow in confidence, overflow with happiness, and connect better with their parents if we practiced saying, "I just love to be with you." I want my children to overhear me tell the neighbors this. I want my children to know I'd choose them. I want my children to know that those words reflect the boundless love of God who adores and delights in them.
I'm going to tell more children that I love to be with them.
Journal: What child in your life needs to hear the words, "I just love to be with you"?