have I told you lately?

I recently read a post over at Hands Free Mama titled Six Words You Should Say Today and it really got me thinking. Not that I don’t think anyway, but Rachel often gets me looking at and thinking about things I tend to gloss over. Things we all often take for granted. This particular post gave some good advice for interacting and encouraging our children. I loved it. I tried it. I didn’t wait for an opportunity to arise involving my own child, I used it when volunteering in Kindergarten the day after I read it. It was beautiful to see the effect of “I love watching you write letters” on a little one.

What else happened was that this led me to think of all the times we, as parents, use “I love you” as a precursor for some lesson or reprimand. I say “we” because I’m pretty sure I am not alone in this.

  • I love you but could you please remember to flush the toilet?
  • I love you but if you had done what I asked you to do you in the first place you wouldn’t be stuck behind the couch.
  • I love you but can’t you read quietly for awhile?

I realised that I have a tendency to do this. I think my belief was that starting with “I love you” somehow made the reprimand easier to tolerate. Having given it some thought, I no longer believe that. I now think it actually takes away from the “I love you” and makes the bad stuff even worse. The simple act of removing the “but” and making two separate statements changes the whole thing.

  • I love you. Please remember to flush the toilet.
  • I love you. Let me help you out from behind the couch. Next time try to do what I ask.
  • I love you. Could you please read quietly for awhile?

    … just love …

Don’t get me wrong, I often tell BoyGenius that I love him — without any qualifiers at all. But I also do this other thing. And I’m going to stop. Because my loving him isn’t contingent upon him flushing the toilet or eating his vegetables. It just is.

Categories: Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “have I told you lately?

  1. Simple. Powerful. Beautiful. I am truly honored that my post has inspired so many people to think about the way they are communicating with children. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am inspired by YOU. From now on, leaving out the “but.”


  2. Running from Hell with El

    Yes yes yes!! It is almost as bad as the non-apology apology of “I am sorry but . . . ” Great post!!

  3. Oh El, that puts me in mind of that song by Take That that I hate: Back For Good. You know, it goes “whatever I did, whatever I said I didn’t mean it.”

    Thanks so much for your support.

  4. Great post and great point! That ole “but” qualifier definitely diminishes the “I love you.” Once you throw in the “but,” everything before it just got squashed.

  5. So, so very beautiful. I too am guilty of this–not frequently, but far more often than anyone I love deserves!

  6. i love this post; it reminds me of my own adventures a few years ago when i was determined to remove “but” from just about every sentence i uttered; especially the sentences that started out as affirming or positive. i decided i would either pause, or replace “but” with “and.” “and” was much easier. the pause seemed obvious. i love how you put this together for your child. he is lucky you are his SAHM. -molly

  7. Pingback: Good blogs: Sharing the "Liebster" love « Grass Oil

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