I wish you could have seen the look on his parents’ faces. They didn’t know he had sometimes been awake. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself….

Last Wednesday, Randy Thomas wrote an important guest blog inspired by chapter four of No More Perfect Kids, the book Jill Savage and I wrote. His writing always gets me thinking and his take on the question “Am I important to you?” reminded me of something we didn’t have space for in the book.

Although feeling important and feeling loved are not the same, children who know they are loved will feel more important than children who doubt they’re loved.

When we feel unconditionally loved by someone, we naturally feel important to them. You can never express your love too much. Tell your children — a lot — that you love them no matter what. (Pages 108-109)

I enjoy interviewing children, casually and sometimes formally, always with permission. Among other questions I enjoy asking them is this one:

“How do you know if your parents love you?”

The honesty, enthusiasm, and answers of children of all ages never disappoint me. One of my favorite memories is interviewing 11 children in front of about 100 parents in Budapest, Hungary, many years ago. I asked, “How do you know if your mom or dad loves you?” You can compare the following answers with how you think your children might answer this question.

“I know my Dad loves me because when he’s gone on a business trip, he brings me a present.” – Girl, age 9

“Daddy takes me out to breakfast.” – Boy, age 8

“I know my Mom loves me because she does fun stuff with me.” – Girl, age 11

“God told me they love me. Daddy just loves me.” – Boy, age 4

“I know my parents love me because they sacrifice for me.” – Girl, age 13

“My Mom hugs and kisses me a lot.” – Lots of young boys and girls

“My Dad listens to me and cares about what I think.” – Girl, age 17

“Because sometimes she kisses me, she hugs me, and she says she misses me when she comes home from trips.” – Boy, age 7

My favorite answer of all time came from a 15-year-old boy living in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He grabbed the microphone instead of having me hold it as the other children had done. He confidently looked out at the parents and declared:

I know my Mom loves me because when she thinks I’m asleep, but I’m not, she tiptoes into my bedroom and whispers into my ear that she loves me.

When this teenage boy finished sharing, I turned toward the 100 parents to make a comment. I couldn’t talk. I discovered I wasn’t the only one crying. We reacted emotionally because we heard love in his voice and saw love on his face. It was a powerful moment to be remembered. I wish you could have seen the look on his parents’ faces. They didn’t know he had sometimes been awake.

How would your children answer this question? Why don’t you find out – and celebrate a deeper sense of intimacy with them. Before you ask, what answer do you hope to hear? If you don’t hear it, what changes can you make?

nmpkJill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch share many ideas in their new book that will help you know your children well so you can parent them well. We hope you’ll check out No More Perfect Kids