Give Daily Outpourings of Love
"Feeling acceptance and affection from parents is vital for a child’s sense of acceptance. Sadly, about one out of every four LDS teens reported that they felt their parents did not adequately demonstrate their love for them. While we cannot know exactly how often and in what manner their parents actually expressed affection, we do know that more than 25 percent felt it did not measure up to what they desired and needed. It is difficult for teenagers to feel a sense of worth if their parents do not express love, appreciation, and respect for them. Those young people who exhibit a healthy confidence not only have come to feel Heavenly Father’s love for them but also have experienced consistent expressions of love and support from their earthly parents. “My parents are very affectionate,” one young man reported. “They always hug me and tell me they love me. That means a lot!” In contrast, many of the teens who expressed self-contempt reported that they did not feel loved by their parents and rarely, if ever, heard the words “I love you.” One high school student stated: “My family isn’t a hugging, touchy-feely sort of family. We have problems expressing our love to each other. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been hugged by my parents. I wish we would show our love more openly.” Each of us needs to feel loved, respected, accepted, and appreciated. We all need to hear verbal expressions of that love. It is especially vital for adolescents who are being bombarded with feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. As one teen declared, “I don’t think the words ‘I love you’ can ever be overused.”
It is difficult for some parents to hug their children and express love, even though such expressions are as vital to the emotional and spiritual development of their children as sunshine, good soil, and adequate water are for the healthy growth of a plant. A parent’s reluctance to express love can be compounded sometimes by the way children react—especially if they aren’t accustomed to experiencing such affection. They may roll their eyes, groan, and pull away, but deep inside they feel a special security that comes with the knowledge that they are loved. Expressing love takes little time, costs nothing, and yet yields rich dividends—here and hereafter. A daily outpouring of love is not only vital for emotional well-being but also essential to spiritual development."
(Ensign, February 2006)