The new school year started recently here in Birmingham, and I find myself a little nostalgic. Maybe it’s the fact that my daughter has started her senior year in high school, but I find myself wondering if I’ve sowed into her life in the way she needs so she knows her value and worth.
I remember my own high school years all too well. Like many of you, they were filled with awkwardness and insecurities. I didn’t feel pretty or special, and I questioned my worth. My insecurities chased me into adulthood and led me to make some bad decisions in love and life. Those years are a huge part of why I feel called to write the books that I do. I want to empower girls (and boys too!) and women to know their worth and value. Before I can help others, I have to start at home.
Like any good parent, I don’t want my daughter to suffer my fate, so I find myself pondering the words of Deuteronomy 11:19–21, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”
I have to make sure my daughter knows she is a child of God, and while I’m doing that, I need to sow into her life by continuing to say these five things often.
- I believe in you. Everyone needs to know they have someone who believes in them, even when they don’t believe in themselves. As parents, we can back these words up with actions and by being present. Our kids want to know they are a priority and what they do is valued.
- You can do it. One thing I remember about my momma is her utmost faith in me. She may not have always understood my hopes and dreams, but she made me believe they could come true. She backed up her words with actions. One of my most prized possessions is a blank book she had embossed with the words Original Poems by Chandra Y. Sparks. It was my first time ever seeing my name in print, and it served as a visual reminder that my crazy dream of wanting to be an author could come true. Her words and actions showed me she knew with God’s help, I could do anything.
- You are beautiful/handsome. I think we often take it for granted that our kids know we think they are beautiful/handsome, but they need to hear the words from us. My thought process is my daughter is going to hear she is beautiful from me rather than some funky-tailed little boy, and she will hear it from me often.
- I am proud of you. Just because a child doesn’t make straight A’s doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. Kids bring different talents to the table, just like adults. They have some area in which they excel. Build them up and let them know you are proud of them, even in areas where they need work. I think deep down, that is most people’s heartfelt desire, to know they have made someone, especially their parents, proud.
- I love you. Yes, you pay the bills and provide your child with life’s necessities, and in your mind maybe this is your way of showing you love them, but people need to hear the words sometimes too. Even if it’s outside your comfort zone to say I love you, break free. Hearing the words I love you combined with your actions can make a huge difference in your child’s life.
What are other things you feel parents should say to their children?