I had just gotten out of the shower and dressed when a knock came on the bathroom door.
"Yeah?" I answered.
"Mom, can I come in?"
"Just a minute,” I replied.
"It's really important."
I opened the door to the worried face of my 9-year-old boy. He looked to be holding back tears.
"What is it?" I asked him.
"Mom, have I been a bit rude to you today?" he asked, tears welling up in his eyes now.
Confused by this, which I'm sure was evident in my facial expression, I said, "No, baby. You haven't."
He said, "Oh, OK. Good." and turned to walk away, but his face still had that worried look and I could tell he wasn't yet content.
I'm not sure where he had gotten the idea that he'd been rude that day. We had a small struggle with multiplication tables earlier in our homeschool in which he let me know he most certainly didn't want to memorize them. It hadn't been a big deal to me, and he hadn't been rude. He was irritated over math, and I can certainly relate to that feeling. Yet, apparently, it was weighing heavily on the heart of this gentle-natured, soft-hearted, highly sensitive boy of mine.
"Hey," I called to him. He turned back toward me, eyes cast down. I lifted his face with my hands and said, "Hey. We're good." And the tears overflowed his eyes with my two simple words, and I held him in my arms until they ran dry.
Two simple words, "we're good," had released the ball of worry and tension inside him and soothed his heart.
Our relationship is still strong.
I still love you forever.
I still like being with you.
You're still welcome in my arms.
Nothing can separate you from my love.
I'm glad he was able to speak to me about the worry of his heart, and yet I wondered how many times there had been that he hadn't spoken it out. I wondered how often this tender boy had kept that ball of worry to himself, wondering if he'd gone too far. Wondering if he was still loved just as much. Wondering if he'd hurt me, or his dad, or his brother. Worrying. I was able to soothe him because he'd shared his thoughts with me, but how could I soothe his heart when he didn't say it was troubled?
I believe one of the greatest things we can do for our children is to offer a repair and reconciliation after any disturbance in the relationship, no matter how small or trivial it may seem. What hadn't been an issue for me had weighed heavily on my child, bringing him to tears.
What you didn't think was a big deal may have bruised a heart.
What you didn't see as an issue may be weighing heavily on a loved one.
What you think is just another conflict, just another argument, just another irritated word spoken may leave your child wondering, "Are we okay? Am I still loved as much? Does she still like me? Does he still want me around?"
"Are we good?"
Our connection matters. Our children feel it. They need it. They need to know that, no matter what transpired today, no matter what was said, no matter what was spilled or knocked over or broken or uttered, we are good.
I'm not counting your mistakes or flaws.
I keep no record of wrongs.
Nothing can make me love you less.
I will always love you.
I will always want you.
My arms are always open to you.
You are safe with me.
We're good. Always, we're good.
We mean so much to our children. Our love and acceptance are their lifelines. Make sure the sun never goes down with a worry of connection on your child's heart. After every struggle, tell them "We're still okay." After every correction, let them know, "I still like you." After each argument, every harsh tone, every piercing scowl, each display of irritation, let them know, "Hey, we're not perfect, but my love for you is."
"My love for you is perfect and strong and can never diminish. I like you. I adore you. I'm so glad you're mine. So very thankful that you are mine."
Release the worry and tension that may be bound up and allow them to rest in your love. Always.
"We're good." Yes, we are.
*Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother.