My oldest son came home from school today with his graduation cap and gown. He is a senior and will graduate 3 days after Mother’s day. I feel a combination of joy, sadness, pride, ….and nausea! Do my kids really NEED me?
Whenever my kids have a champion moment that signifies they are growing up, I am so proud of them and happy for their future, but…it adds to a growing feeling that I am becoming less and less needed in their lives.
I decided that the best way to find out what they need from me, their mom, was to ask them, so I did and here is what they said:
My 18 year old son, Connor said, “What I need from my mom is”:
- Advice, not instruction – “I want and need your advice from your life experiences….I also want to make my own mistakes.”
- Privacy – “Knock before coming in my room…and then wait for me to say come in. I’m not hiding anything, I just need some privacy”
- Respect my time and schedule – “I like being able to help you out, I just don’t like it when you assume I don’t have plans and you plan something for me.”
- Communicate Family Plans – “I actually like family time, I just want to be able to plan around it, otherwise, it makes family time feel like frustration rather than fun.”
- Positive Reinforcement – “ I need to be told when I do something right, not just when I do something wrong. I need to know you are proud of me”
- Love – “I know you love me when you support my ideas and when you tell me you love me.”
My 16 year old son, Casey said, “What I need from my mom is”:
- Communicate Family Plans – “I really like our family time, but I don’t like canceling my plans because I wasn’t told family plans have been made.”
- Support – “I need your support when I have a new idea! I need encouragement and you to help me not quit when I want to give up.”
- Support – “I also want your support by you going to my school functions and my orchestra concerts and me. It makes me feel like you are proud of me.”
- Hugs – “Believe it or not, I like it when you hug me….even in public!! It doesn’t embarrass me, it just lets me (and everyone else) know that you love me.”
- Positive Reinforcement – “I need to be told when I have done well. It encourages me to repeat the good stuff.”
- Love – ”When you tell me you love me I know that you do…actually, everything you do for me tells my you love me!”
My 15 year old son, Chase said, “What I need from my mom is”:
- The Basics – “I need you for a place to live, food, money, and presents!”
- Support – “It means a lot to me when you go out of your way to go to my band stuff. I like that we have that in common. I also appreciate your help paying for all of my band trips and going on them with me!”
- Advice without intrusion – “Basically, don’t get involved in my love life! It’s embarrassing!”
- Sometimes a hug – “(it’s ok if it is all the time, not sometimes) I like that you hug me in public, my friends are actually jealous, cause you’re a cool mom!”
- Obedience – “I know this will never happen but you asked what I need from my mom so….I thought I’d try to slip this one in.”
- Love – “Making time for me and my activities shows me that you love me”
My 12 year old son, Cameron said, “What I need from my mom is”:
- Advice – “I need your advice on how to handle situations at school…but not about girls!”
- Support – “I need you to help me pay for my band trips (of course) but I also really like it when you go on the trips with me. I like seeing that you are proud of me.”
- Hugs – “Any time, anywhere, in front of anyone! I know you love me when you hug me!!”
- Communication – “I need you to tell me when family stuff is planned ahead of time. I don’t like getting ready at the last minute.”
- Time – “I need you to spend time with me alone, just you and me!”
- Love – “I know you love me when you give me hugs, time together, and gifts….I like gifts…”
My 11 year old daughter, Savannah “Savy” said, “What I need from my mom is”:
- Cuddles – “I just like to cuddle with you and talk about my day! Hugs and kisses are always needed too!”
- To be taught things – “I need you to teach me to do things that I don’t know how to do, like doing my own hair and putting on make up.”
- To be available – “I need you to be available for me to talk to you about school and about my day.”
- Time – “I need time alone with you. It doesn’t matter what we do.”
- Love – “I know you love me when you help me with my homework and you make time for me.”
My 10 year old daughter, Sydney said, “What I need from my mom is”:
- Money – “I’m too young to make enough myself so I need you to pay for stuff for me.”
- Hugs, Kisses & Cuddles – “I like this all the time but especially when I am upset! You are my “happy place” when I am sad or upset.”
- Time – “I like it when we spend Mom/Syd time. I get all of your attention that way.”
- School Lunch – “I like it when you come to my school and eat lunch with me. It makes me feel special that you go out of your way for me for lunch.”
- Love – I know you love me when you tell me you love me and when you hug me and rock me….I’m not too old for that!!!”
As you can tell, I didn’t filter their lists…. I was amazed at how easily these answers came out of them as if to say, “of course I need you mom”, all the while I am telling myself a story that they don’t need me. Their needs change as they get older but they don’t go away. I still call my mom when I’m sick for her to tell me what medicine to take and for her to say, “I’m so sorry you feel bad.” Even as an adult, that still helps!
I have shared these insights from my children not to tell you that these are the needs of your children, rather, to show you what you can find out if you ask! Sit down with your kids one on one and ask them what they need from you as their mother. Tell them there is no wrong answer and let them have fun with it!
The last thing on each of their lists was answering the question of how they know that I love them. Be sure and ask them this question. Listen carefully to this answer from your children and you will hear the answer to the greatest need they have for you….your love!
The book “The Five Love Languages for Children” (or teenagers) by Gary Chapman, is a great tool that tells you how you can “tell” your child that you love them through a language that they understand.
So, do my kids really NEED me? If you are like me, and you wonder if your kids need you or if they know you love them… ask them! It is the only way to know.
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