By Dr. Jan Hittelman

As parents we are always looking for effective strategies to deal with the many challenges that we face. Due to our busy harried lives, we often lose sight of some very basic yet critically important parenting responsibilities. Our most important responsibility as parents is making sure that our children know how much we genuinely care about them and how much they’re loved. We often assume that our children know how we feel and therefore it is not really necessary to let them know in intentional ways.

Several years ago the National Parent Teacher Organization did a study that found that the ratio of negative to positive statements made by parents to their children was 18:1. That’s eighteen negative statements to every positive one! This dynamic is more common in our own homes than we might like to think. As a result, our children may not be as clear about our unconditional love as we may like to think.
Strengthening our children’s sense of our parental love during the elementary years can have a very positive impact on their emotional well being, self-esteem, and our relationship with them during the teen years.

As we decompress from the school year and find opportunities to relax with family, this is a great time to reconnect with our children in a positive way. To purposely schedule time to go for a walk, share a meal, go out for coffee, or go on vacation, and make a real effort to simply share and catch up. To discuss and heal from the challenges of the past, while beginning to brainstorm ways to increase our successes during the next school year. To make sure our children know how much we love them and to provide genuine praise for the very many things that they do right. To let our children know that we will always be there to support them and welcome them to seek us out whenever they’d just like to talk. To let them know how honored we are to be their parents. While we often assume that our children know that we love them, it is important to try and balance the necessary negative feedback that our children require, with the unconditional love that they need most of all. Make this summer a time of rejuvenation and strengthening of the relationship that you have with your child.