How We Tell Our Teens We Love Them, Without Saying a Word

We love our teens. We have loved them from birth, and it is one of the true, immutable facts of a parent’s life. Sometimes we tell them of this love; sometimes, we show them in a big gesture, a gift, or a sacrifice we make for them. But the biggest and maybe the most important way we share our love is in small, daily acts that convey our care. We asked Grown and Flown Parents to share what this looked like in their families, and here is what they told us.

Teen on bleachers
There are many ways to tell our teens we love them without saying it.

Laundry Is Love

“I’ll switch her clothes from the washer to the dryer before I go to bed, so she doesn’t have to go to school soggy.”

“I do their laundry, including folding and putting it away.”

“Washing sports uniforms before a game.”

“When she’s home on breaks, I ensure her sheets are crisp and freshly laundered.”

“My younger son loves fresh pillowcases from the dryer before bed. When I can do that, I’ll switch them out for him. Life is tough. School is tough. Any chance I get, I love to do special things.”

Food, Definitely, Equals Love

“During the fall semesters, I make Meals on Wheels (a Sunday dinner of some kind, usually a huge quantity of baked pasta and meatballs, or lasagna, stacked enchiladas, etc.) and cupcakes or cookies, and drop it at the dorm door after a home soccer game. They’d save it for the next day, bake it in the dorm kitchen, have dinner for the entire suite, and a few more. Basically, foods they love.”

“I cut fruit. So much fruit. The youngest is a varsity swimmer (plus a million other school activities). Her fruit consumption during swim season would scare the faint-hearted. She can peel/chop/prep her own fruit, and she does without complaint. But when she comes home and sees that I have prepped three pineapples, a dozen kiwis, 9 or 10 mangos, and 2lbs of strawberries, she does not have to do it for the next few days, she squeals. It’s a simple chore, but I know it makes her feel cared for.”

“I packed her lunch. She took her lunch to school every day, and I had it packed and ready when she left. All thru school, her days at CC, and even after when she was going to work. Now that she has flown, she tells me that she appreciates that when she packs her own (and now her husband’s).”

“I leave for work before she gets up three days a week. On the days I’m home, I get up with her, make her something to eat, and hang out until her bus comes.”

“My daughter is vegan, we’re not; when her dad cooks vegan meals, she feels like a million bucks.”

“My youngest likes to try new foods and drinks, so if I see something he’d like to try, I pick it up. For my others, they prefer routine, so trying to keep the pantry and fridge stocked with their favorites makes them happy.”

“I instacarted apples because he loves fresh apples and has finals and felt guilty spending money. Make freezer meals so there is healthy food to heat in a pinch.”

“Make his breakfast and lunch every day even though he’s more than capable.”

Social Media Allows Us to Share Love

“With each of my kids, we picked a cute emoji representing our relationship. One daughter and I love fairies, so we have the fairy as a sign. Whenever I think of her but don’t want to bother her, I send her our fairy. She doesn’t have to talk to or text me; she knows I’m thinking of and loving her. They send them to me even more.”

“I send random emojis, bitmojis, and Snapchat pics. Drives her crazy, but she knows I’m thinking about her!”

“My daughter and I send each other ‘I love you’ memes every night. They are all really silly and cute.”

Touch and Small Gifts Convey Love

“I often just hug her. She’s a touch = love person, so she loves hugs. When feeling down or frustrated, a hug can go a long way toward making her feel better. She also loves spending time together. So I will ask her to go for a walk, or we will watch a show together. Or talk about what’s happening (or I let her talk, and I just listen!).”

“Each of my girls has a song I started singing to them as babies. When they’re home, I hug each daughter and sing her song to her before bed.”

“During a particularly rough week for my junior, I bought her flowers and tidied her room; she came home, went upstairs, and came sobbing. She was just so appreciative.”

“I’ve known all of my boys were touch-driven since they were small, and they are still, even as teens, guys who NEED hugs, arm squeezes, or just to touch feet while watching a movie.”

But Most of All, Attention Equals Love

“When listening to them, I stop whatever I am doing and face them. If my phone is in my hand, I set it face down.”

“My husband pulls my daughter’s car out of the garage in the morning before she leaves for school, so it’s facing the road and ready to roll. I pack lunches. She actually wrote a thank you for these two things in her senior quote.”

“Watch what they want to watch. Listen to their music on road trips (country music for my daughter and French pop music for my son). Read and help with papers when they ask. But mostly…support their choices and encourage them!”

“I get up with them. Anytime they have to be up early for work, sports, or whatever, I get up with them. Even when I don’t have to be up, I do. It’s not that they need me; it’s just that I like seeing them off and helping with anything they might need.”

“Staying up waiting for them until they come home at night. Kissing them good night and saying a prayer before bed.”

“We stay up late most nights when she’s home and talk and laugh. We watch movies and series together. It’s in those small things that I know she knows she’s loved.”

“Give them hugs and tell them goodnight and ‘I love you every night.'”

More Great Reading:

Show Your Teens You Love Them While Giving Them Space They Need

Here’s How to Show Teens We Love Them, Every Day

About Lisa Endlich Heffernan

Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan is the co-founder of Grown and Flown, the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author.
She started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and is co-author of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

Read more posts by Lisa

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