It’s funny the things kids never forget about parents, the random memories that have a permanent spot in our minds. One of those for me is Valentine’s Day 1991. I woke up to flowers and a card on the kitchen counter, but they weren’t for me. They were for my mom, obviously. Still, I was heartbroken. My dad argued, “But your mom is my Valentine.” Irrationally, I cried. That afternoon, he came home from work with a cookie and a homemade card in the shape of a heart. I still have the card, and I’ll never forget how special my dad made me feel.
For good or for bad, parents leave indelible marks on their kids. It’s hard to know what moments or conversations our kids will remember, and there are some we’re hoping they’ll forget! But knowing what stays with our kids can help us be more intentional. Here are 3 things kids never forget about parents.
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1. How Much You Yell or How Angry You Get
Of all the things kids never forget about parents, this is the one I hope they have the foggiest memories of because I’ve lost my temper more times than I want to admit. If you get angry easily like me, don’t beat yourself up. We can’t fix past mistakes, but we can learn from them and work to change.
Memory-making goal: Help your kids remember how you put in effort to grow in patience and overcome issues with your temper.
2. Your Love Language
I’m not saying your kids know your love language, but they will remember the way you most often showed them love. My sons will remember that I constantly gave hugs because physical touch is my primary love language. Your kids might look back and say, “My mom always surprised us with a tiny gift when she came home from running errands,”—gift-giving—or “My mom always told us how special we were to her,”—words of affirmation.
3. That Time You Surprised Them
There’s something so special about an unexpected treat or outing. Big or small, surprises are among the things kids never forget about parents. I woke my kids up one Saturday morning and said, “Get in the car. We’re going for donuts!” We all went in our pajamas (one of us put on a bra) and had a ball. Kids love when Mom loosens up and gets spontaneous.
Memory-making goal: Let go of the schedule more often. Even if you’re not a spontaneous person, find something small you can do to surprise your kids.
“One decision at a time, be the person you want your kids to grow up to be.”